Training Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans (Guest Blog)

For Today’s Blog we have a guest writer, Cheryl Mulick:

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Veterans Day will never be quite the same for me from this year forward. It was exactly one year ago when my daughter, Christina, and I attended a meeting of the newly formed Northwest Professional Dog Trainers Association. As everyone was introducing themselves and their training businesses, we had our first exposure to Dr. Michelle Nelson the founder of the non profit organization, Paws Assisting Veterans, or PAVE.

We have all had defining moments when we unknowingly took a step in a direction that would impact our lives forever. If we had not gone to that meeting we would might never have had the pleasure of knowing Michelle, let alone share a passion for her mission.

I don’t believe we even spoke to each other at that gathering. However, a few weeks later I read that she was looking for trainers that might be interested in helping to raise up young dogs for the program. I was somewhat familiar with how a service dog organization operates as I had recently done some work for another group, providing foundational training on two dogs for children with disabilities. In a moment that altered my life as a dog professional, I contacted PAVE about volunteering my services.

After making a home visit, Michelle ok’d our family to take one of her dogs. One thing led to another over the following months as we integrated helping to train PAVE dogs into our regular board and train business. Naturally, this commitment added to my workload, but it was gratifying to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause. My husband being a veteran himself from the Vietnam era, was totally supportive. Thus, I knew I had the green light and could deepen my involvement with no complaints!

I fully enjoyed getting to know Michelle and the others surrounding the organization. It stretched me as a trainer to learn how to teach dogs to perform the necessary tasks for the veterans as well as pass the Assistance Dogs International testing. I found it challenging yet fun and exhilarating for both myself and the dogs. All training is done using positive reinforcement and “shaping”, which requires that you capture moments of desired behaviors and reward them. So exciting! I found that I was even happier working with my regular clients as well. After twenty years of training here on our property I suppose, looking back… the daily routine had gotten a little stale.

This past summer as I was enjoying training all my canine students, it occurred to me that there had to be more to training service dogs and that a piece of the puzzle was missing. I said a little prayer that if I was going to donate my time and effort to this endeavor, that I do it for the right reason and not just because it gave me a thrill, made me a better trainer, or put another feather in my cap.

My prayer was answered when I went to work at PAVE’S 2014 camp and graduation in August and experienced the bigger picture. It was there that I encountered the reason for all of the hard work and dedication. It was there that I found Dr. Nelson’s passion. It was no longer about anything else besides the veterans who had served our great nation and were now standing before us wounded and broken, hoping that they would find new life with the dogs that had been prepared and specifically chosen for them. They were the missing piece of my personal puzzle.

In between camps and formal graduations we continue working with our service dogs in training each day. If a dog completes its training and there is a likely veteran prospect on the list, Dr. Nelson begins the investigative work to assure a perfect match. In all cases the veterans are referred by the doctors at the Veterans Administration. If the needs, personality, and lifestyle align with an available dog then PAVE begins the arduous yet wonderful project of training the veteran to the dog on an independent basis if the veterans are local and available.

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The majority of the veterans for which PAVE supplies service dogs are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Now I see the face of this horrific affliction. The average citizen has no idea what PTSD looks like. You may have a general idea but nothing concrete unless you have seen it up close and personal. Just imagine not being able to go into a grocery store and having to survive on drive-through food for sustenance. How heartbroken would you be or how inadequate would you feel if you couldn’t attend your children’s school functions? Try to picture not being able to sleep at night due to nightmares and flashbacks. What would it be like to feel hopeless and disabled? Often the veterans have traumatic brain injuries and other physical problems in addition. And, these special men and women are the ages of my own healthy grown sons with families of active youngsters. That was a very influential element for myself.

There are ways that we all can help… the dogs we train, the time we devote, the funds we donate. Not everyone inspired to help us will have the opportunity to actually come into contact with a disabled veteran with PTSD because the victims are hidden among us in society trying not to be noticed. I feel privileged to happen to have a talent through which I can be one of the few that can literally touch them and aid them in finding support and healing with a service dog. To me they now have names and faces to attach to the pain they suffer. However, thanks to PAVE they now have hope.

Studies indicate the beneficial effects on our veterans when paired with a trained service dog. The PAVE dogs can wake a veteran from a nightmare, nudge him or her when spacing out or in a panic state, provide a barrier against crowds in public, and many more tasks. They go everywhere  with their veterans and give them the confidence to mingle in society. PAVE is currently part of a study by Kaiser Permanente measuring the benefits of these  highly trained dogs for the veterans in our program and others like it.

It has only been a year, but one I will never forget and I hope there are many more. In ways it has been difficult to become aware of the plight of so many of our returning war heroes, but in a big way I feel so humbled to know some of them personally and be able to do a small part toward their recovery.

Thank you Paws Assisting Veterans and Michelle Nelson for making me part of your team! And thank you to all of our brave men and women this Veterans Day!

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Military Veterans are very important to us at Dog is Good. Co-owner Jon Kurtz is a retired Veteran himself. This year we are proud to announce Dog is Good for Patriots. Dog is Good for Patriots is a year-long program created to raise awareness of the important role service dogs play in the lives of Veterans. We chose to partner with Freedom Service Dogs of America to support their efforts to rescue dogs from shelters and custom-train them for service to wounded warriors.

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15 Things to do to make it feel like Fall in California by Dog is Good

If you live in Southern California, you know that we don’t really get much of the“fall” season until late November, December… if that. To help you make it feel more like fall, check out our list of ideas that both you and your dog will enjoy.

1. Update your dogs’ bedding

You know those old blankets that have holes in them or were that yummy bright color you loved over the summer? It’s time to update and renew your dogs’ bedding and/or your dogs’ bed. We love shopping Tj Maxx or Marshall’s for soft crate liners or blankets. We also love the beautiful prints by Pet  P.L.A.Y.

2. Buy a few new candles

Don’t you just love the SMELL of fall? Dogs benefit from aromatherapy too. We love to update our smell around the house with new candles in great fall scents like “Evergreen forest” or “Cabin” themed smells. Also anything Sandalwood, Fir, or Amber screams fall. Check out other scents that help to create a calming mood for both you and your dog.

3. Take a long walk

You know that feeling of a really good long walk with fresh air? Well your dogs long for it. Spend 45 min with your dog after work and take them on a long walk around the neighborhood. With summer over and the clocks changing soon- it’s important to take time to relax and walk your dog. It’s beneficial to both you and your dog.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Take your dogs camping.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Take your dogs camping.

4. Camping

To me, nothing beats that chilly feeling and warming up next to a campfire. In California, we are lucky enough to still be able to camp late into the year. It doesn’t get too cold here so grab those Pendleton blankets and your pups and spend a weekend in your own “backyard” camping!

5. Thoroughly clean your car/house

Now that it’s no longer “summer” take the extra time to do a good deep cleaning in the kitchen, living room, car, and get all that dog hair vacuumed up and ready for your pups to get real cozy in all their new bedding.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Take your dog hiking.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Take your dog hiking.

6. Go Hiking

It’s important to still stay active during the fall/winter months and while it may not be that cold out- you might not feel that urge to put on your wetsuit and go surfing. How about bundle up and go for a beautiful hike along the California coast or in one of our beautiful canyons. Take these moments to smell the crisp air and see the leaves changing. I love going for hikes during the fall because, to me, it’s where I see the leaves change the most and get that ‘fall feeling’ that I crave.

7. Make Dog Treats at home

Why not spend a night making homemade dog treats out of pumpkin? Nothing “screams Fall” more than pumpkin. Not only do dogs love pumpkin, but it’s really good for them too!

 

8. Schedule a Fall Family Photo shoot- Include your dog!

Now is the perfect time to schedule a family photo shoot with your pup included! After all, they are part of your family. So if you haven’t set up a date yet, hurry! They can be your Family holiday cards.

9. Start a project

Make a goal for the last few months of the year. Include your dog in this goal, or have several goals but one just for your dog. It’s a great way to feel accomplished as we finish out 2014.

10. Sew a Dog Blanket

Have you had that fabric laying around for forever now? Not sure what to use it for? Now is the perfect time to make a dog blanket. Or find a cool pattern online and make a dog bow or bow tie attachment for your dogs collar. Use great fall colors like jade, mustard yellow, and ruby!

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Subscribe to DogTv

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Subscribe to DogTv

11. Subscribe to DogTv

Seriously! DogTV works. We have personally seen it in action. Sign up for a free month trial and be amazed at how it might calm your dog down or keep your dog entertained on days when you can’t get outside on your walk or hike. Just like you- Your dog will probably have his favorite ‘shows’.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Volunteer at your local shelter.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Volunteer at your local shelter.

12. Volunteer

Have some down time on the weekends? Don’t own a dog? Volunteer at your local shelter. The greatest gift we can give is love and affection and there are hundreds of dogs out there that need love and affection.

Consider donating that dog blanket you plan on making.

13. Rent a Cabin

Not a camper but still want to get away for the weekend? Rent a cabin somewhere and get that same fall feeling! Call to make sure your dogs are welcome.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Visit a dog beach.

Top 15 things to do with your dog this Fall. Visit a dog beach.

14. Go to the beach

We don’t get that cold here in California… and believe it or not but the fall/winter are my favorite times to go to the beach. Grab your thick comfy sweater, a pair of uggs (or vegan ones!), and a blanket… Grab your favorite book and a cup of coffee and just read and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the fall/winter here because the beaches aren’t crowded, like they are in the summer.

15. Spa Day

Take your dog to have a spa day at the local groomers, and when you drop them off- go get a facial for yourself! Right now the air has been dry and you may have noticed your dog has been itchy… Hurry up and book an appointment with your local groomer for a soothing oatmeal bath to tend to that itchy skin.

It’s not impossible to experience ‘fall/winter’ in California. What are your favorite activities  when transitioning from Summer into Fall? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

Xo Luna

Responsible Pet Ownership Day

Every so often, I’ll learn that a friend wants to get a dog. Initially, I am extremely excited for them, but the other half of me has to be real with them.

Dogs are a lot of responsibility. Dogs depend on you and rely on you for their safety, comfort, and basic care. With this responsibility, one needs to be aware that you cannot make plans to be somewhere before first going home from work and feeding, walking your dogs and playing with them for a little bit. Providing basic care is just the beginning. Understanding your dog’s need for interaction, play, and mental stimulation are critical to daily living.

It’s not enough to just physically be there, sometimes you need a reminder to get off your phone. I think it’s something we are all guilty of. When I get home from work, I use our daily walks as a chance for me to unwind and connect with my dogs. To let them go out into the world and explore and smell all the different scents throughout the neighborhood.  These are incredibly relaxing and rewarding moments.

Providing proper health care is also critical throughout their lifetime. You need to take into consideration the costs involved and ensure that you keep up with it. Regular check ups are needed to make sure that the health of your dog is good throughout their many years. This includes taking them to their vet the moment you suspect something might be wrong. Waiting could be a life or death situation. Additionally, grooming needs must be maintained. Ensuring nails are clipped, teeth are cleaned, and regular bathing occurs is very important.

Everyday I remind myself to check in with my dogs, TRULY check in with them and see how they’re doing. To give them the love and attention that they deserve. If I noticed that I spaced out for an hour lurking around on my phone, I make it a point to put it down and love on my dog, walk my dog, give my dog a treat, or at least engage them in some kind of interaction between the two of us.

Having a pet first aid kit is another important thing to have as a pet owner. Even an emergency plan in case of flooding, earthquakes, tornados, fires… or if your pet gets lost.

Is your Dog microchipped? Do you use proper pet identification tags?  If not, what is stopping you?

Take these things into consideration when celebrating #ResponsibleDogOwnershipDay ..

xoLuna

There is only one way to safely keep ticks off your dog: by making your dog less attractive.

Guest Blog Post from our friends at Earth Heart INC.
Dangerous and deadly tick diseases are becoming more and more of a concern for dog lovers, especially in the spring, summer and fall. That’s why Earth Heart Inc., has put together the following information to help dog lovers better understand the importance of keeping ticks off your dog, while still enjoying the great outdoors.
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Did you know?

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) can be transmitted to a dog from an infected American Dog Tick or the Lone Star Tick in 2-5 hours?
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) can be fatal to your dog if not treated quickly?
  • Lyme disease can be transmitted to your dog from a bite by an infected Black-Legged Deer Tick or the Western Black-Legged Tick in less than 6 hours?
  • Lyme disease can present reoccurring symptoms over the life of your dog once they have been infected, reducing the dog’s quality of life?
  • Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis might be transmitted to your dog from an infected Brown Dog Tick or Lone Star Tick in 24-48 hours?
  • Little is known about a new tick disease, Canine Hepatozoonosis, found in the southeast regions of the United States, and is thought to infect your dog if it ingests an infected Gulf Coast Tick or Brown Dog Tick? 

Did you also know?

  • Chemical laden pesticide based topical, and flea/tick collars for dogs can take up to 2-3 days to kill a tick attached to your dog, rendering them ineffective in preventing an infected tick from infecting your dog with dangerous tick diseases?
  • If your dog ingests an infected Gulf Coast or Brown Dog tick, it is thought that no flea/tick preventative can help from potentially contracting Canine Hepatozoonosis?
How do you combat the nasties?
There is only one way to safely keep ticks off your dog: by making your dog less attractive to them.
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Tips to keep dangerous tick diseases from being transmitted to your dog:
  • Treat your yard or lawn. Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only) is a wonderful, healthy and safe powder product that you can sprinkle in your yard to effectively kill tick.
  • In addition, concentrated Garlic Spray can be sprayed around your yard, effectively repelling ticks.
  • Ticks are attracted to a host by body heat, odor from the skin and carbon dioxide that people and dogs exhale. Using an essential oil based spray on your dog with neem seed oil as the main ingredient can make your dog unattractive by altering its scent.
  • Check your dog immediately after being outside, time is critical.
  • If you don’t immediately find a tick, check again after 1.5 hours, before several tick diseases can be transmitted.
  • If you find a tick, safely remove it by using round-tip tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly at the base of the head. Then gently and steadily pull on the tick. Be careful not to break the mouth parts of the tick off and leave them inside your dog because infection is likely.
Earth Heart strives to help you and your dogs live healthier, happier lives. We hope this information helps you understand and prepare for the second tick invasion during late summer and autumn.

Letting Go

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.15.42 PMIts hard to believe that summer is almost over.   Like every other kid, my daughter has been thrilled to be out and spent her time enjoying camps, working at Dog is Good, and spending time with her friends.  It is even harder to believe that a year raising BOLO is now nearing its end.

 Abby will be entering her senior year in high school while, at the same time, BOLO enters her next training phase at Leader Dogs for the Blind.  Where did the time go?  It is no surprise that I find myself filled with a variety of emotions.  There are tears but also smiles of joy and pride as both move forward to tackle the next stage in their lives.

I started thinking about what it will be like to “let go”.  I started reviewing the job I have done.  Was I an effective parent?  Was I an effective puppy raiser?  It is interesting to me how raising Abby and raising BOLO parallel each other.me and abs

I remember holding BOLO in my arms not too long ago much the same as I remember cradling Abby.bolo puppy shower crashed outabby zoe picture

 

 

 

I’ve spent months teaching BOLO basic manners skills and providing her with opportunities to experience a world that she will have to navigate safely and confidently as someone’s eyes.  I’ve spent years teaching Abby – instilling values, fostering manners and independence,  providing opportunity for critical thinking and decision making, and allowing her to make mistakes….all to prepare her for the world beyond high school.

 

©Dog is GoodBOLO has grown into the happiest dog I have ever known.  She is an energetic and ebullient pup that continues to progress toward accomplishing the skills required to become a Leader Dog.  With each passing day, the thought of “letting go” is difficult. I have a deep love and respect for this beautiful dog. Yet, I know she has a job to fulfill and I must focus on the  joy and satisfaction gained in the process preparing  her for the important role she will play in someone else’s life.

Conversely, as I reflect on Abby’s high school experience so far, I look to how she has grown and matured as a measure of  the job Jon and I have done as parents.abby senior  She has blossomed into a natural leader who is positive, funny, and good natured.

It is going to be different…moving on to the next stages of life.

Building Bonds is as Easy as a Game of Fetch

Everything in life is like a game of fetch

 

©Dog is GoodI took Henry to the dog park earlier this week.  Momentarily lost in thought, I was watching about 8 different dogs playing fetch with their owners.  Many of the dogs ran repeatedly after the balls being thrown, retrieved them, and trotted happily back to their owners to drop the ball at their feet.  Over and over again, the ball was picked up, “chucked” across the field, and pursued by an exuberant dog.  The dog-human teams seemed so happy and connected.

Conversely, other dog-human teams seemed out of “sync”.  Like the first group, the owners would throw the ball and the dog would happily chase after it.  However, these dogs did not bring the ball back.  They often got distracted by smells, other dogs, or just simply stopped and dropped the ball 20-50 feet away from their owner.  This forced the individual to walk over to pick the ball up to keep it in play.  Initially, the owner eagerly trotted over- happy to be spending quality time with their dog. However, after a while, I noticed the owner slowing down, stopping to check their phone, and/or begin a conversation with some of the other people at the park.  In this scenario, both the owner and the dog lost interest in participating in the game and, while they were both present- they really were not connecting at all.

As I reviewed all of this in my mind, it occurred to me that how we engage with others in our life is much like a game of fetch.

©Dog is GoodWe find personal satisfaction and pleasure in “throwing out the ball” or “giving to others”.  When the ball is returned or gestures acknowledged- it is rewarding, so we continue to engage  “throwing the ball”, thus fostering a stronger  connection and bond with our partner, child, friend, etc….This back and forth element of “tossing out behaviors” continues as long as it is mutually rewarding.

Unfortunately, we often allow the stresses of daily living to get in the way. We either find ourselves too busy to initiate the game, tell our loved ones when they bring us the ball -”we will play later”, or we try to play while multitasking. Over time, our loved ones stop bringing us the ball and our initiation of the game occurs less and less. The game becomes less rewarding and the strength of the connection between the two people seems to wane.’

 

DailyDV_5As I left the park, I made a mental note:

I took this opportunity to apply a very casual observation as general life lesson- throughout every day, we engage and connect with our dogs in ways that are mutually beneficial and rewarding. 

We look directly at them when we speak, we touch them, we play with them, we snuggle with them, we are connected with them.  In return, they reward us with devoted, unconditional love.  It is why the human-dog bond is so strong.

It would be so easy to strengthen the human-human bond by reaching out daily to engage  in a back and forth exchange utilizing conversation/communication, undivided attention, kind gestures, acknowledgement, empathy, compassion, and affection, as our “ball” in the simple game of “fetch”.

National Guide Dog Day

Dogs Do Amazing things. Through wonderful organizations, dedicated workers, and help from thousands of volunteers, countless dogs have been raised and trained to impact, empower, and change the lives of the visually impaired, blind, and deaf-blind individuals forever.October13_2013_Web

In honor of National Guide Dog day, BOLO and I wanted to share a little bit about the humble beginnings of Leader Dogs for the Blind. Now celebrating their 75th anniversary, they have grown in amazing ways to impact thousands of lives all over the world.

“It all started with “$400 and a hatful of ideas.” – Donald P. Schuur.

On April 4, 1939, Lions Leader Dog Foundation (the name change to Leader Dogs for the Blind was to come in 1952) was incorporated as a Michigan nonprofit by Charles A. leader dog-classNutting, Donald P. Schuur and S.A. Dodge, members of the Uptown Lions Club of Detroit. Their motivation to form the organization came from their unsuccessful attempt to pay for a fellow Lion, Dr. Glenn “Doc” Wheeler, to get a guide dog from the only U.S. guide dog organization existing at the time.

In May 1939, the Foundation leased a small farm in Rochester Hills, Michigan on the corner of Rochester and Avon roads to house their new venture. Fifty dollars per month rented a farmhouse for the clients and staff, a barn for the dogs and a garage. The house rented in 1939 would have over 12,000 clients in residence until its demolition in 2003. Dogs were kept in the unheated barn with straw for insulation (unfit by today’s standards).PG - Brian Celusnak at WMU w ARMOR

On October 8, 1939, the first class of the newly incorporated nonprofit graduated. The cost to graduate each client/dog team was $600. Since then, the campus has grown from a small farm with a house, barn and garage to 14 acres containing an administration building, residence building for clients and a kennel facility housing hundreds of dogs in training, a veterinary office, and puppy and breeding areas. To date, the organization has graduated over 14,500 client/dog teams.  The cost to put a Leader Dog through the program now costs $40K!

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Being MOM to 2 and 4 legged kids

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 Families fall into one of 4 categories: You either have more than one child and only 1 dog, only 1 child and multiple dogs, children and no dogs, or dogs and no children.  I fall into the category of having only 1 child and more than 1 dog. Regardless of what category you fall in, being a mom is like nothing else in the entire world.

My daughter, Abby, turned 16 this year.  When people first learn this, their eyes widen and they lean in to ask,” How is that going- you know, having a teenager in the house. Is it as bad as everyone says?” I smile and reply, “Despite my worst nightmares about living with a teen, it has been pretty darn great.me and abs I actually have an awesome teenager living in my house”. I thought about why and analyzed my approach to motherhood and parenting. I discovered that raising my daughter and raising my dogs were surprisingly almost identical. I simply raised Abby like a dog.

 

©Dog is GoodBefore you call child welfare services, I promise I did not crate train her for potty training. However, much like I trained my dogs, I chose to build a relationship with my child based on trust and mutual respect. “Treating her like a dog” to me meant I gave her clear expectations, rewarded good behavior, ignored unwanted behaviors (like whining, etc…), and was consistent just about 100% of the time. I chose not to be a “helicopter parent” (a mom that hovers and does everything for her child). Rather, I allowed Abby opportunities to make her own decisions, develop responsibilities, and to be accountable 100% of the time. The rewards I have reaped as Abby’s mom are immeasurable. I enjoy our open communication, and the great pride I experience as I watch her mature into an independent and self-sufficient young lady.©Dog is Good

 

As a Dog Mom, the rewards are also immeasurable. My life was forever changed (literally) the moment my first puppy entered my life. Initially, I was their teacher- helping them adapt to my world by combining positive training with clear and consistent expectations.

However, it was the dogs who became the real teachers- forcing me at times to reflect on how I am living my life. Living with them inspires me. They inspire me to love more, play more, focus more, and to live in the moment without regret.©Dog is Good

“Love is a Four Legged Word, Caring for You is a Privilege, and I Get to Watch my Heart Run Around In Front of Me…”, are sentiments felt by Dog Mom’s everyday. This May, Dog is Good, will be focused on honoring the often-overlooked segment of motherhood, Dog Moms!dogmom award

We are hosting the first annual #DOGMOM of the Year Award, presented by Petplan Insurance. Starting May 1st, you can enter yourself or another woman that you think exemplifies the BEST of Dog Momhood. Everyone that enters will receive great gifts and offers from the many partners supporting #DOGMOM with us this month. Click here for details.

Priceless Moments

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Today I chose not to write about dogs…but rather the special, unforgettable memories that are created when spending time with family.

Jon and I took some time off this week to travel to Nashville TN, without dogs, where we would spend 5 days with 100 15-18 year old high school show choir students. As we took off at the crack of dawn and settled into our flight, I thought about how important my family is to me and the many reasons why Jon and I chose to start our company, Dog is Good. Our decision to build Dog is Good together stemmed from our motivation to do something we loved, have the ability to design our lives, build a future for our family, and find ways to make a difference in the community around us.abby alexia 2

When we started the business we had 3 dogs and 1 daughter. Six and a half years later we have 1 dog, 1 dog in training to be a Leader Dog (guide dog), and still only one daughter- who is now 16. Despite the long hours and dedication we pour into our business, we made a promise to never miss any of our daughter’s milestones or events that our daughter was involved in. We have kept that promise.

Abby’s show choir (think GLEE) competed on the stage of the Grand Ol Opry in a national show choir competition. Witnessing these amazing kids in both the advanced womens (SoundTRAX) and advanced mixed (SoundFX) groups win grand champion first place titles was indescribable. Seeing the kids pride and joy as they realized the benefits from countless hours of hard work and dedication was one of the most memorable moments for both Jon and I.

family 6The best part of the past several days was being together as a family, spending time with our daughter and her friends, and connecting with other parents. I was reminded that these are the moments in life you just can’t take for granted.

 

…AND we even managed to embarrass our daughter during an outing on the town dancing –  priceless.me and abs

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Pet parents take a new path..

4/1/2014 Chicago, IL

I think we’ve all observed or felt the cultural shift – the humanization of pets and increased spending at the expense of other household priorities. But a new trend is emerging, and it is taking families in a different, if not a disturbing direction.

One family, who requested to remain anonymous, said their lives have changed for the better. When they sent their children to summer camp, they noticed that their own quality of life had improved considerably. They were spending time alone with their 2 Weimaraners and felt relaxed and energized. So they decided to make a permanent change. Now the 2 kids are at boarding school and, though the children may not be happy, mom and dad are. weimar

But another family did the same for a different reason. Their Beagle, Bailey, was suffering from severe allergies with itchy skin and bouts of sneezing. They noted the symptoms subsided when their own children visited their grandparents for weekend trips, and they sprung into action. Now, under the guise of sending their children to a better school district, the Smith kids live with their grandparents and Bailey is a happy, healthy Beagle.

 

grandparentsCarol Smith defended her decision, “The household is a much better place. It’s cleaner and quiet, the toilet seat is down (and dry), I’m not picking up underwear and I don’t have to listen to incessant whining for upgraded iPhones and X-Box, ugh.” She added, “Some people fault us for being self-centered but the fact is, the kids really are at a better school and their grandparents are probably giving them more attention than we ever did. So it IS a win-win, right?”

Similarly, stable relationships are ending over dog-related disputes. Mindy Goldstein always pampered her Yorkie, Bebe. But when it became obvious the dog was receiving more of her attention than her fiance’ of 8 years, Jacob, he gave her an ultimatum – pick one. We actually discovered Jacob on J-Date, the website for Jewish singles, so you know how this story ultimately played out. But Jacob says he is neither bitter nor angry. “I pretty much saw it coming,” he said. “I mean, she talked to that spoiled dog more than she talked to me, she took her everywhere in that ridiculous tote bag, took her to restaurants, clothes shopping, and she cooked for her every day. If she ever made me tuna salad like my mother used to it was like a mini-celebration. I left her last year after Passover.”

Some of the “political class” in the country have gone on record saying this is more evidence of what they call cultural decay – a deterioration of morality in America. But to serious dog lovers it just feels right.