Get Your Groovy On! Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange

Pet-Bloggers-Gift-Exchange-graphicIt’s the third annual Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange!  I’m excited that it is also our third time participating.  For those of you not familiar with this event hosted by Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes, bloggers are randomly matched; not to share physical gifts but to share encouragement, compliments, and linky love.    Non-bloggers can join in the fun by following the posts and finding some new blogs they might not be familiar with.

In the first year, I was new to blogging and I made a great new blog friend….we are still friends to this day.  The next year I was paired with a blogger I already considered a friend; it was fun to write about each other and I think we each still learned something new about the other.  This year, I am paired with someone I know, but that I would like to know better.  Other bloggers understand that blogging takes a lot of time, and we don’t always have the time we would like to visit and enjoy all of the other great blogs out there.  I hadn’t spent nearly the time I would like reading Groovy Goldendoodles; so I was thrilled to be paired with Cathy; now I would take the time to learn more about her and her adorable goldendoodle Harley.

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So I grabbed a cup of coffee and finally sat down to get to know them better.  I went back to the very beginning….May of 2011 when she put up her first post. At that time she had two goldendoodles (poodle-golden retriever crosses), Harley and Leo. I enjoyed reading how each of her dogs had come into her life.   Harley was not yet two years old when Leo joined the family.  Here’s a picture of the two young dogs together:

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Who wouldn't be happy coming home to this face?

Who wouldn’t be happy coming home to this face?

One of her early posts was titled “THERE IS A GOD (and He loves dogs)”; it was about the joy of coming home to dogs after a bad day.  Anyone who has dogs in their life understands and relates to the joy of being greeted by them when we get home…the bad day just melts away.  Over the next couple of years Cathy wrote about her life with her dogs, with some posts written from Harley’s point of view.  She also covers topics of importance to pet families such as “Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?”, and “Hot Cars Kill”.

I got curious about Cathy’s background and hopped over to her About Me page and found out there that she was a military wife who always wanted a dog, but didn’t get to have one as a child.    She and her husband had two children, and traveled in and out of the states for years, so she still had to wait before getting that longed for dog.  The children grew up, the traveling ended, and now they had a new family of four…this time with two doodles!  With everyone wanting to know about their new life with the dogs, she decided to start writing about their adventures.

So much love seen here!

So much love seen here!

Things settled in and life was good, but then the unthinkable happened; Leo became suddenly ill and died at only four years old, just this last summer.   Having been through my own loss earlier this year, of our 13 year old beagle, and also suffering tragic losses of young dogs in the past, I can relate to Cathy’s pain, as I know many of us can.

Leo

Leo

Cathy has done her best to move forward, as we all must do, and she shares her and Harley’s pain in a special tribute page dedicated to Leo.  I love the quote she has on that page:  “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way.”- Irvin Townsend .  On that page you will also find “Harley’s Letter to Leo”, and a beautiful video tribute to Leo.

She also wrote a touching post “Helping Dogs Through Grief”.   Here she talks about Harley’s grief and how she works through helping him.  It’s great experience to share with anyone who has multiple pets and loses one.  I remember when we lost our dog Maggie, how much Kobi grieved, and I wonder what else we could have done to help him through that.  Cathy found some answers to that question.

Harley

Harley

As I read some of her more recent posts, I realized I had spent more time reading her blog than I thought.  A few of these posts were familiar, some I had taken the time to comment on, some I hadn’t.  Cathy always replied when I did comment, which is something I really like to see on a blog.

111Cathy is carrying on her and Harley’s life and honoring Leo in wonderful ways.  Harley is now a certified therapy dog and they visit assisted living facilities and schools.  Harley really seems to especially love children!  Cathy and Harley are still sharing their lives, with fun stories about their family life, “S’mores/Monday Mischief“, helpful posts for pet families, product reviews, and amusing posts as well.  Don’t miss the Fantasy Island post….it  is classic especially for us older people who remember the TV show Fantasy Island.   Many of her posts are punctuated by fun as well as touching photos.

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Cathy’s love for dogs and family shines through in every post.   I could go on about favorite posts but you might want to just head on over and see for yourself.   You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Inkopius

 

Welcome to Day 18 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof PetsToday you can win some swag from InkopiousClick here to enter!

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – Luke Can Run (Errands with Mom)

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Day 17

 

 

Welcome to Day 17 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways, hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s prize is $50 worth of custom collars from OK Collars.  You can enter here to win, and find today’s trivia question on Heart Like a Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to BlogPaws for hosting the Wordless Wednesday blog hop.WW badge

‘Tis the Season

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of the holiday season, and forget what it’s all about. Christmas is still my favorite holiday, and I think we all need to be sure to take a moment to remember that it’s about giving, sharing, caring, and believing.  It’s a time to give to others, and to share happy greetings.  Gifts don’t have to be physical, but can be the gift of helping others, or of sharing a heartwarming story, a laugh, or a smile.

I’m seeing so much generosity and the spirit of Christmas around me, that I wanted to share just a couple of things that especially touched me this year.

The Spirit of Giving

Our friends Caren, Cody, and Dakota, from Cat Chat with Caren and Cody and Dakota’s Den have been very busy this holiday season helping shelter animals.  In a post this last weekend, they shared ways they and other bloggers have been helping, and ways that you can help if you care to.  I wanted to share one special drive here as well.

The Santa Paws Drive was created over 5 years ago as an online effort to collect toys and treats for pets and shelters.  They have raised over $55,000 in toys, treats, and donations for over 30 shelters worldwide in that time.  You can read more about them by clicking on their name above or use the widget below to be taken directly to their donation page, where there are many options for helping, big and small.

Day 16There are so many blogs doing wonderful giveaways for the holiday season this year!  We have been enjoying being co-hosts of the #Advent4Dogs giveaways, along with Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, and NEPA Pets.  We hope you’ve been entering the 24 days of giveaways.  If you haven’t been entering, what are you waiting for?  Every time you enter, you have a chance to win that day’s prize as well as every prize from all 24 days (that’s over $1000 in prizes!)  Today’s prize is $25 worth of treats from Jones Natural Chews.   

We are hosting today’s trivia question as well.  Visit Kol’s Notes to enter the answer as part of today’s giveaway!        

Day 16 trivia

The Spirit of Sharing

Even the dogs are showing their Christmas spirit!   Sheba is being so good to her brother Luke, who is supposed to be resting his knee, by playing nicely with him on the couch.  Do you think they do this all the time, or is it only because Santa is watching? :)Sharing

Who doesn’t love to read a happy story at the holidays, especially about pets?  Our friend Jen at Dogthusiast put together a blog hop for sharing adoption stories, for the #JoyfulMoments movement – an internet event celebrating the joy we share with our pets.  We shared stories of our adoptions of our first dog Shelby and of Luke who came home with us just before Christmas last year.  It was in looking for Shelby’s story that I was inspired to re-share a blog post I wrote two years ago about Shelby and how I first fell in love with dogs. I’m including the blog hop linky list here so you can also read and enjoy all of these stories.   You might want to have a box of tissues close by, just in case.  You can also join in the hop or share your own stories in other ways as well. Visit Dogthusiast here to find out how.  

Black & White Sunday – O Christmas Tree

 

Finally, I got someone to wear the elf hat!  After years of trying, and nothing but pathetic and sad faces with the hat on, I got some cooperation (after wrestling with him and telling him the hat was not a toy….)

Christmas tree

I was excited about putting the tree out on the new porch.  This is Luke’s first Christmas tree (he came home just before Christmas last year but we didn’t have a tree up), and he’s been pretty good with it (we’ve only had to “trade” treats for two ornaments so far, but we keep the gate up or the porch door closed when we’re not there to watch him).  I kept the decorations pretty simple and safe too though.

Dec 14

 

Welcome to Day 14 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways, hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s prize is a handmade beaded dog collar from Tales from the Backroad, in your choice of design.    Open to US and Canada.  Click here to enter.

 

 

 

nolasugar_bwbadge_pmThank you to Sugar the Golden Retriever and Dachshund Nola for hosting the Black and White Sunday blog hop.  Please visit them and other blogs through the links below.

FitDog Friday – Challenges

 

Between our icy winter weather, and Luke’s luxating patella diagnosis, we’ve been pretty challenged around here about getting exercise.  Luke is supposed to be resting, which is challenging in and of itself, and the girls still want to play out in the snow.  They don’t understand that their brother can’t do that right now, and it’s hard to go outside with them and leave him inside.  It’s a bit easier when my both my hubby and I are home, but during the week it’s usually getting dark by the time my hubby is home from work, and our yard is not well lit.

It’s been raining, snowing, or sleeting almost every day and the roads are a mess so I don’t feel safe out there walking on them.  On top of that, the yard and stairs to the deck have been icy as well, so having the dogs run around out there isn’t always the best thing.

In addition to the fact that Luke is supposed to be resting, he is supposed to lose a couple of pounds.  How do you get a resting dog to lose weight, other than starving him (or at least what he perceives as starving)?  Plus entertaining him indoors usually involves something that uses treats!  We’ve cut back his meals just a bit more for now, and I’ll give a full update and details on his condition soon (I’m still researching).

So we’ve had to think of some different ways of doing things.  Here’s a couple of things we’ve been doing:

When hubby is home, I take Luke downstairs and play a treat game with him, while hubby takes the girls outside and plays fetch, only letting them run in the safe parts of the yard where there’s soft snow.  Since the temperatures have been a bit warmer that’s been doable.  When it’s just me, I take Luke out onto the deck with some toys, which I throw lightly and low to the ground and he can get them and play with them.  The gate to the deck is closed, and Cricket can bring the ball that far which I then throw into the yard for the girls to chase.  Every so often I let Luke steal their ball, because that’s part of his joy in playing fetch!  He wants to be in the yard with the girls, but he enjoys being with me too.

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He still gets to steal the ball!

He still gets to steal the ball!

Enjoying the jolly ball.

Enjoying the jolly ball.

I previously had thoughts of working with Luke in agility, but with his bad knees I don’t think that’s going to be a possibility.  So I’ve started nose work with him at home again.  Donna and the Dogs posted a good starting series called “Sniff School”, which we started last winter but slacked off on.  We went back to Lesson 1, and Luke excelled at that in just one session.  He was a bit nervous when I started stacking the boxes, or he had to walk through them, but he quickly got over that.  Therefore we’ll be moving on to Lesson 2 next time.  I have some very low calorie treats that I use for that which he likes.  It also gives us a chance to work on reinforcing his basic training skills, as I’ll send him back to his bed to stay while I set the boxes up again.

Beginning nose work.

Beginning nose work.

Luke’s knee is showing signs of improving, knock wood, and hopefully our weather will improve as well so we can get back into walking soon.  I want to keep him away from running and jumping completely until he’s not holding that leg up at all anymore, and even then we’ll have to be cautious with his activities.

How do you think are we doing under these circumstances?

Day 12Welcome to Day 12 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways, hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s Prize is two pair of dog lover earrings from For Love of a Dog jewelry (I can’t tell you how much I love her jewelry, which you may know because I’m always writing about it!).  Open to US and Canada.  Click here to enter.Dec 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re happy to be joining the FitDog Friday blog hop.  Thank you to our blog hop hosts SlimDoggy, To Dog With Love and MyGBGVLife.  Please visit their sites and others through the links below to learn more about keeping your dogs fit and happy!

Throwback Thursday – Favorite Story

When looking for an old post yesterday, I ran across one of my very first blog posts, that has always been one of my favorite stories.  Growing up, I was always a cat person and this story is about how I came to fall in love with dogs as well.  I’ve been feeling sentimental lately, must be the holidays, and I really wanted to share this story again.  Since it was early in my blogging, I’m pretty sure only family and friends ever saw it (and they left some very nice comments).  I did tweak a couple of grammatical errors in it, and add one photo collage, but otherwise it is the same as when originally written.

A Spiritual Awakening of Sorts (original post September 2012)

People who visit our zoo…er, home, and meet our 4 dogs, would be taken aback to learn that I didn’t always really like dogs. Only the people closest to me know that.

We never had dogs growing up….as a child in Massachusetts, my family only had a couple cats that came and didn’t stay, I don’t remember why.  I also had a rather mean parakeet named Perky who would bite anyone who dared to try to take him out of his cage. (Of course, we still loved him in spite of that.) Later as a teenager in New Hampshire two stray cats found their way into our yard and our cajoling finally wore my father down, and he let us keep them. I had many cats after that, but no dogs.

My baby book has an entry from my mother under “favorite toys” that reads “stuffed animals, especially dogs”. Perhaps that was foreshadowing on my mother’s part. I did indeed have a stuffed dog named Lucy that was with me until I was well into my 20’s. She was limp and dirty by then, and eventually I must have lost her or decided it was time to let her go.

I can’t point to any specific reason why I didn’t really like dogs, or was even a little afraid of them. I would visit other houses where people had dogs and maybe their dogs jumped on me or otherwise misbehaved. One friend had a little Pekingese who barked at me a lot when I visited. He may have been trying to tell me something. But I didn’t hear it.

When I met my husband after moving back to Massachusetts, he didn’t currently have a dog, but he had had several dogs throughout his life and he definitely wanted another. I put him off for a bit, though we did agree that we would get a dog when we owned our own home.

We moved back to NH in the early 90’s, when the late 80’s real estate high had busted, and we were unable to buy a home immediately. We decided to rent a house, if we could, and found a nice one out in the country. The landlords lived right next door and we went for our interview to their home. They had two Labrador Retrievers….a black Lab named Mariah and her son , a big chocolate Lab named Moses (they later got a 3rd, a yellow Lab named Molly). As we sat on their couch talking, those dogs were all over me….on the furniture clambering for my attention. As uncomfortable with that as I might have been, I politely patted the dogs. We rented the house, and since we were pretty far out in the country their dogs sometimes ran loose and came down to visit us, especially Moses. We took long walks on those country roads with him accompanying us. That soon got to be a routine, and he would play with rocks in the brook and just generally entertain us and keep us company. I fell in love with that dog.

Our first little (rental) home in the country...the cats loved it here.

Our first little (rental) home in the country…the cats loved it here.

We eventually moved to another rental home, and then finally were able to build our own. The promise of getting our own dog was still there, but now I was more enthusiastic about the idea. After settling into our new home for a few months, we saw a commercial on TV for the local humane society where there were puppies available. We went to see them, there were only 2 puppies left by then, and we chose what we thought was the quieter of the two. On our way home with her we named her Shelby. She turned out to not be that quiet after all, but that was OK. She was a good girl and stuck to the rules of the house that prohibited her from being on the furniture.

We took her hiking and camping and she enjoyed all of that very much. Shelby was not a beautiful dog.…I often joked that she had a “face that only a mother could love”. However, she was cute and loveable, and she had a beautiful soul.

When she was only 6 years old we found a lump in her chest. The diagnosis was an aggressive form of lymphoma. There were treatments available and we chose one which we felt would not be too difficult for her. She quickly got better, and her remission lasted about 3 months. But it was a good 3 months, through that time we still took her hiking, and she felt great. We treasured that time by spoiling her and giving her free run of the house, furniture and all. Her death was rather sudden and happened on a sad rainy day when we were not home. I will always feel guilty that we weren’t there for her, but I think in her own way she knew it was time to go and it would be easier for us if we did not have to make that agonizing decision ourselves.

Shelby and I on Mt Cardigan in 1997.

I believe that all of our animals leave their mark on our heart, and their own legacy. Shelby’s legacy was that once she was diagnosed with cancer, all the silly household rules went out the window, and she had that free run of the house, which paved the way for every dog we’ve had since. They are all allowed on the furniture, and appropriately spoiled in every other way.

 

Shelby and my husband on Mt. Cardigan in 1999….in the middle of her cancer treatment.

 

Sometimes it may not even be our own pet that leaves that mark. When we brought home our current male golden retriever, we named him Moses; in honor of a sweet loving chocolate Lab who left his legacy by literally changing my life. I now cannot imagine being without dogs and their unconditional love.

 

 

 

 

Day 11

 

Welcome to Day 11 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s Prize: XS Big Foot Paw Bed & Fleece Pillow + a pea pod toy, a King Crab toy and a surprise toy from P.L.A.Y.  (Pet Lifestyle and You) Open to: US/Canada.  Click here to enter!

 

 

 

Barks n Bytes

We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes blog hop.  Many thanks to our hosts 2 Brown Dawgs Blog and Heart Like a Dog.  Please visit them and others through the links below.

Wordless Wednesday – Weekend Office

 

I’ve shared photos before of where the dogs hang out when I’m working at home, on “their” couch with a view of the driveway.

This photo is from back in March, in case you noticed that Luke looks smaller!

This photo is from back in March, in case you noticed that Luke looks smaller!

Now that we have our porch finished to a 4 season, I’ve been moving my computer out there on the weekends.  Luckily the dogs have had no trouble moving along with me.

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 (I shared the above photo on social media last weekend if it looks familiar to anyone).

Office assistants hard at work!

Office assistants hard at work!

Welcome to Day 10 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways, hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets.  Todays prize is  2  laser engraved leather collars from Ruha Leather.  Open to: US/Canada (excluding QC and where prohibited by law)  Click here to enter!

Ruha Day 10

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Thank you to BlogPaws for hosting the Wordless Wednesday blog hop!  Please visit other blogs through the links below.

Do You Pamper Your Pets?

 

Pet Pampering for the Holidays

We belong to the Pet Blogger’s Influencer Group at BlogPaws, and recently participated in a survey about pets and holidays.  They put together a neat infographic to show the results.

BlogPaws Holiday Pet Blogger Influence and Christmas Gift Spending

There are a couple of things that I found interesting on here:  First of all, that the number of pet bloggers who have only 1 or 2 pets is about the same as those that have 5+, and that those with 3 or 4 are far less.  Apparently it’s all or nothing!  I’m always trying to figure out what the perfect number would be, right now we have 5 (3 dogs, 2 cats), but at one point we had 8 (4 dogs, 4 cats)!  The only thing I’ve determined so far is that 8 was too many for me!

We usually spend $50-100 on all of the pets together at Christmas.  I might spoil them more for the holidays, but I really spoil them all year long anyway.  I can’t tell you how much time I spend shopping (mostly online) for the pets, year round!  We laugh when packages come to the house; it’s either something I’ve ordered (or won, or for a review) for the pets, or car parts that my hubby has ordered for his (or my) Mustang!

I haven’t done Christmas cards with the pets for a few years now.  I don’t think I’ll have time to do them this year either, but I might try again next year.  I’m not big on dressing them for photos, but I’m hoping for a little more of that this year, especially with Luke who seems to be pretty tolerant of having things put on him (unlike the girls).

Luke window

the stashSpeaking of spoiling and Christmas shopping, I am still on the hunt for indestructible toys for Luke and Sheba.  The Orbee-Tuff football they got for their birthdays has been a success!  It has held up and they still play with it.  Here you can see that Luke has it stashed in his favorite spot on the windowsill with some other favorite toys.

Sherman sheep

Sherman Sheep

 

 

When Black Friday shopping I found a different tough stuffed toy – a Tuffy – and we’ll see how this one goes!

 

 

 

This ‘n That

I don’t think I ever properly thanked Jodi at Heart Like a Dog for passing on the Liebster Award to us.  As with all awards, there are rules and I will get to those another time.  I just wanted to be sure to at least acknowledge the award to start!

I’m happy to announce the winners of our PETCAM book giveaway!  Congratulations to Kate V, Katty K, Jenna H, Lauren E, and Malia R.  All winners have been contacted and their books should be on their way to them now!

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Have you been following the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways?  Don’t miss out on a chance to win one or all of these wonderful prizes!  We’re excited to be co-hosting along with Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, & NEPA Pets.  You can enter each giveaway at Kol’s Notes.

 

 

Dec 9

Today’s give away is sponsored by CloudStar.  Enter now for your chance to win a Treat Prize Pack (different in US/Canada due to import export laws). Open to: US/Canada.  Click here to enter!

 

 

Monday Mischief – Leaving the Scene

Conrad 1A

Conrad 2A

scene of crime

Day 8

Dec 8 triviaWelcome to Day 8 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s prize: 2 copies each Dieting with My Dog & the Dieting With My Dog Guide to Weightloss & Maintenance by Peggy Frezon.  Click here to enter.
Open to: US/Canada (Except QC and where prohibited by law).

 

 

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Thank you to our blog hop hosts:  Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, and My Brown Newfies!  Please visit them and the other participants through the links below.

Black & White Sunday – Shadows

 

Guess who?

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Day 6

 

Welcome to Day 7 of the #Advent4Dogs 24 days of giveaways hosted by Kol’s Notes, Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA Pets & Wag’n’Woof Pets. Today’s prize is a custom pet portrait embroidery hoop from Hither RabbitClick here to enter to win this prize as well as the grand prize worth over $1000!!

 

 

 

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Thank you to Sugar the Golden Retriever and Dachshund Nola for hosting the Black and White Sunday blog hop.  Please visit them and other blogs through the links below.