Each new year, I like to reflect back on the past few months and set goals for the next few months. This year, I seem to be finding things all around me that I want to go through, reorganize, purge and clean out. I think it’s the added drama of a new decade that has me feeling so energized. Since the dogs are a huge part of our household, I wanted to create an organizational punch list dedicated to them to add to my New Year’s goals.
1. Bath and groom. Everyone deserves a feel good in the new year and smelling fresh and clean is a great way kick things off.
2. Go through the grooming tools.
Wash the brushes and combs. Replace any with broken bristles or tines.
Send scissors out for sharpening and/or replace any that aren’t comfortable or work well.
Refill products that you like and work well for your dog, dispose of products that you don’t use.
Make a fresh batch of dry shampoo, two recipes that we use can be found here.
3. Is your house suddenly overun with toys? Sort and wash all of the dog toys. Donate extra toys to a local shelter, dispose of toys that are no longer in good condition.
4. Sort and wash beds, blankets and towels. Donate extras in good condition to a local shelter.
5. Review vaccination records for each dog. Make sure everything is up to date and mark the calendar for when each of them is due for their annual check-up and 6 month stool check. Take a picture of the current vaccination certificate for each to keep in your phone. If required, renew pet licenses.
6. Review pet insurance policy, be aware of renewal date. Make any desired changes before policy renews for the year.
7. Go through your pet first aid kit. (I keep this one in the car.) Replace/refill any products that have been used or have expired. Insert current copies of vaccination records so that they are in hand if you have an out of town emergency.
8. Confirm that your contact information is correct with the pet I.D./chip company.
9. Take a look at collar I.D.’s. Replace any that are hard to read or have out dated phone numbers or information. Order extras if you change collars frequently or ID clips that make it easy to transfer tags from one collar to another.
10. Set some new goals for you and your pets. Walk more, play more, try something new. There are so many options!
Winn and I when she passed her first Water Dog test
Maisie and I the day she passed her therapy dog certification
On New Years Day, Maisie and I met a new friend at the dog park and had a wonderful time.Maisie has always had the attitude that everyone should be her friend. Most of the time, this is OK, but I’ve always been sensitive to her over-friendly ways and how they are received.
When we were going through our Therapy Dog training, the biggest challenge for her to overcome was to restrain herself when meeting new dogs and understanding that playtime doesn’t happen all the time. Fortunately, with lots of work and positive reinforcement, she was able to understand that she needs to wait for me to cue when it is OK to meet.
We continue to work on this…every time we encounter a dog.
One of my New Year goals with her is to start giving her more opportunities to run and play when it’s appropriate and to find doggie friends that are a good match for her.
Luna is definitely a good match for her!She is a sweet, young, energetic girl who was adopted from Newfoundland Rescue by a wonderful nearby family. We have met a couple of times at events put on by our local Newfoundland Club but I always had Winn with me. Winn is more reserved about who she wants to meet and play with, but I knew immediately after meeting Luna that Maisie would love her.
They ran, they bounced, they greeted a few other dogs and then ran off again together. It was perfect and we will be doing this again regularly. Maisie works so hard when we are visiting schools, she deserves some time when she doesn’t have to contain her exuberance!
It’s that time of year again and our resident reindeer and elf are ready to share some of their favorite gift ideas for all of the different people and pets on your list.
To celebrate the season
Advent calendars $3 and up
Advent calendars have come a long way from when I was a kid. The assortment is enormous with items to appeal to even the fussiest person on your list. Of course the traditional chocolate can still be found in stores everywhere, but other calendars are filled with toys, beauty products, beer or wine, and now there are even calendars for dogs and cats!
For the big dogs
drying robe from Ruff and Tumble $50 and up
We spend a lot of time in the water and I’ve had a very difficult time finding a drying robe that will fit a large dog. A friend referred me to Ruff and Tumble and the first one I bought was actually too big! They are located in the U.K. but they are very quick to ship. They are a little pricey but quality is wonderful and they are very long lasting. I recently got a pair of the drying mitts and they make drying muddy paws so easy. Find out more here.
a new leather collar or leash $30 and up
Several years ago I discovered that for dogs with long, thick hair around their necks, a round leather collar is the best collar to prevent matting and tangles. Ever since then, that’s been my collar of choice but it’s a little boring. I admire dogs with different patterned or jeweled collars, but I resist the urge to buy one for my dogs. As a result, I have a pretty big leash collection. I have leashes for training, swimming and walking the neighborhood. I love buying a new leash and I have leashes that range in size from 2 feet to 30 feet. I love the variety and I choose what to use based on my mood and what we are going to be doing.
Click here for my favorite round leather collar, here for Hund collars, here for custom leather leashes and collars, and here for patterned collars by Foggy Dog. They donate food to shelters with each purchase.
Oma’s Pride dog treats $8 and up
High in fatty acids, vitamins A and B, Iron, and Taurine.
Sourced & produced in the USA.
100% natural — no preservatives, additives, or flavorings.
Suggested Use & Instructions: Use as a treat, snack, or training tool. Feed whole or break into smaller pieces.
Ingredients: Hand-sliced chicken hearts
I can teach Winn to do anything when these treats are involved! Her favorites are the chicken hearts but she really isn’t choosy. There’s really nothing else to say, she loves them.
Water Work, Water Play by Judi Adler $40 plus postage
The best Newfoundland specific water training manual out there! This book explains how to get started and how to be successful with each componenet of the Junior, Senior and Excellent test. If you know someone interested in water work, this is the book for them.
Garden totem or other pottery pieces from Prairie Dog Pottery $25 and up
A dear friend gave me this garden totem when Winn and I passed our first Water Dog test. She introduced us to water work and taught us how to do each different exercise. The metal rod I put it on for the planter is a little long, but I’m holding a spot for something special when we pass the Draft Test.
There are so many wonderful items to choose. In addition to the garden totems (with many different dog breed pieces) she has a huge selection of pottery items. I’m especially fond of the coffee mugs with a Newfie pulling a cart.
The shop at Newfielove just keeps getting bigger. She’s got bibs, mugs, pillows, towels, t-shirts and sweatshirts and a whole lot more. I think these socks are pretty darn cute and the perfect gift for someone who might be bashful about advertising their newfie love. Check out her shop here.
Sea Bags $30 and up
This company recycles old sails into bags. I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. I appreciate their reuse, repurpose mission and I’m nostalgic about the many years I spent living on the east coast. They are located in Portland, ME and have opened several stores in New England and beyond. Winn knows this bag is “her” bag. It’s always packed with treats and all the things we need when we are training or testing. I’ve got my eye on a custom bag. I want to have one made with the image of Winn either pulling the boat to shore or jumping off of the boat.
I love this picture
I need to capture this without her life jacket 🙂
Click here to shop their pets collection but don’t be surprised if you spend more time looking around at all of their other items.
A little bit of whimsy for dog lovers
Dog Bingo by Polly Horner $29.95
How about a board game the whole family can play? You can learn more about other fun products by Polly Horner here and purchase Dog Bingo here.
Dog tail hooks $29
I absolutely love these hooks and that they come in two sizes. These are available at Grandin Road here. There are similar options at several other online retailers if you want different colors or sizes.
Holiday kitchen towel from Sur La Table $12
This towel is pretty cute and there are lots of other options available to add to your kitchen. Dog lovers 12 days of Christmas towel available here.
Teddy the Dog $5 and up
Teddy the dog offers a huge variety of items featuring almost every dog breed with a silly pun. For the hard to shop for person, surely you will be able to find something here!
We hope you’ve gotten some good ideas for somebody on your shopping list. Most importantly, enjoy your time with your loved ones and give everyone extra hugs.
Pumpkin season seems to start at the very first sign of the fall temperature drop.
There’s a certain coffee company that has a specific drink that people seem to go crazy for and when the rumors start about its availability, that seems to signal everything else pumpkin related.
I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t like the idea of pumpkin spice in my coffee, but I do love pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins. I also love finding the perfect assortment of pumpkins, large and small, to add to my porch and window box decorations. I usually put them out a couple of weeks before Halloween and hopefully they last until Thanksgiving.
Since this is Thanksgiving week, I thought it was appropriate to share my recipe for another seasonal doggie ice cream flavor. (I usually make frozen treats during the summer months but Maisie has decided she likes ice cream before bedtime, so now I try to keep some on hand all of the time.)
Winn and I recently entered a Newfoundland Draft Test put on by our local Newfoundland Club.
We’ve been training for a few months. We started shortly after her 2nd birthday in March, which is the recommended age to start draft training. With all of the Rally classes we’ve had, she adapted to maneuvering with the cart really well and we entered the Draft Test at the Newfoundland National Specialty in April. We didn’t pass but I came away with a better idea of what a test is like and some things for us to work on before we tried it again.
I put the cart away while we focused on water training for the next few months and then pulled it out again about 6 weeks ago.
Training this fall was challenging. The weather was pretty terrible with lots of rain but surprise, surprise the dogs were happy as can be pulling their carts around on the cool fall weekend days! It was great to practice with a group, we had a maneuvering course set up, a beautiful forest preserve to use for the freight haul, and it was really helpful to have several dogs together to practice the three minute out of site stay.
As an added bonus, there was a tiny dog on site that was more than happy to fulfill the role of “intriguing distraction”, which was almost more that Winn could take until we plopped him in her cart and she took him for a ride.
The weather for the test was cold and sunny and the site for the test was really beautiful. It was a perfect setting, the dogs were frisky with the cool temps and there were lots of people on hand to help out and cheer on all of us that were entered.
Of seven entries, there was one team that passed. There are so many details to accomplish, it really is a beautiful sight when a team makes it successfully through a test.
What kind of things make you fail? Winn and I failed because she got a little too far away from me, she must stay within a four foot radius, and I had to grab her to keep her from getting off course which is an automatic fail and dismissal (you must be hands free for each of the exercises). Another team failed because the dog refused to back up. There are two back-ups required and she just wasn’t in the mood for the first one. One team failed because there was a problem with the cart. There is a full inspection of the harnessing and cart once the dog is hitched. All of these things happened at the very beginning of the test.
A couple of teams failed on the maneuvering course, either bumping too many times or not completing the obstacles correctly. One team failed on the freight haul, which is the very end of the test because her handler told her to turn right instead of left and she sandwiched her handler on the bridge. We all got a good laugh at that one, it’s pretty much always handler error. The dogs take our cues, whether it’s from stress, sloppy hand signals or forgetting our right and left.
We will keep practicing and hopefully pass a test sometime in the near future. Winn has such great instincts and the best part is that we have fun working together and that’s what it’s all about!
If you’d like to read the requirements for passing the Draft Dog test click here. There have been changes to the basic obedience since this was written but the overall test remains the same.