Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunshine Shadow Dogs

For as long as there is sunshine and a canine companion to walk by my side there is life in the spirit of my bones — found in the shadows of dogs of yesterday and today.

A Dog Walk with Ruthi and Tidbit on the Beach

A Neighborhood Dog Walk with Valentino and Ruthi

Sharing my god-dog sunshine and shadow play through BlogPaws on the Wordless Wednesday blog hop for lovers of pets and animals.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Heat Stroke In Dog Days Of Summer

Living in the Florida Panhandle gives new meaning to the dog days of summer, especially with my dog Tidbit by my side as my beach combing mate. Together we learned how to beat the sweltering heat of hot summer sun, a necessary part of heat stroke prevention for the sake of health and wellness of my dog.

Beat the Heat of Hot Summer Sun to Help Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heaven Sent Sunrise Pier Porcelain Plate
Heaven Sent Sunrise Pier Porcelain Plate by abitosunshine
It is imperative that dog owners know how to prevent and treat heat stroke in their dogs. We need to know the early signs of heat related stress so we can address the issue immediately.

Once our canine companions show signs of heat stress, they are well on their way to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This can result in serious irreparable damage to the dog, or death.

As it is with humans—prevention is the key to health and safety for dogs in the warm of a summer day.

Whether you live in a warm climate or it is just plain hot in the summertime wherever you are, or even if you're planning a vacation to Florida, protect the life of the dogs that travel with you. Heat stroke is no joke!

Medical Disclaimer: Based on my personal knowledge and experience through dog ownership and advice from my personal vets over decades, the information shared is never meant to replace professional veterinary care! I highly recommend that you contact the vet you have entrusted with your dog's care for medical advice and dog care for this and all health issues related to dogs.

Water - Don't Leave Home Without It

The #1 thing to remember is to never leave your house with your dog in tow without toting water too! Whether on foot or in a vehicle, it is imperative that if your dog is with you, then you must carry cool drinking water with you too. This rule should apply in the summertime as well as any other time. Get in the habit of being ready for the unexpected, for the well-being of your canine pal.

My Dog Tidbit (now deceased)
After moving to a hot and humid place near the beach, it quickly became clear that I needed a water bottle and dog bowl to tote with me on our daily travels through the neighborhood and for our long walks on the beach.

Tidbit was a bit fussy about what she would drink from, insisting on cool but not icy cold drinking water from her stoneware water dish.

I didn't want anything cumbersome to carry and I also wanted it as eco-friendly as possible. I searched my favorite store for the something that just might fill the bill for the both of us.

I settled on the H2O4K9 ... Tidbit and I could not have been happier with my decision! Never again will I be one to believe that old saying, "You can't teach an old dog a new trick!"

H2O4K9—Don't leave home without it!

H2O4K9 Water Bottle and Bowl

H2O4K9 Dog Water Bottle and Travel Bowl

This K-9 thermos and dog dish became the perfect duo for me and my dog!

The stainless steel bottle keeps the water cool, but not ice cold, just like she drank it at home. And after a few slops and slurps, my dog figured out how to use her new bowl to satisfy her thirst.

The lid (which is the bowl) has a clip loop on it, which is how I currently carry the bottle, clipped on the leash handle.

Neosling Bottle Holder, Red

NEOSLING Adjustable Bottle Holder, Racecar Red

This water bottle holder is the hands-free solution for carrying your dog's H2O4K9.

The adjustable bottle carrier also helps keep the water in the stainless steel bottle a bit cooler for a little longer.

Thirsty Dog Tidbit

Stubborn as can be, but my dog learned to drink from her H2O4K9 water bottle and bowl!

 At first, Tidbit turned away from or ignored the water bowl.

 Eventually, thirsty Tidbit drank from the water bowl!

Dogs Get Sunburns Too

I want to also draw your attention to the coloring of dogs, as it has to do with the scorching sun. As you can well see, Tidbit is a black Chow and Australian Shepherd mutt with thick, silky fur. (A Marvelous Mutt!)

Dogs with dark fur attract the rays of the hot summer sun, absorbing the heat quickly. Since dogs can not sweat like humans do, this means they get overheated and if we’re not watchful they can suffer from heat-related issues, such as heatstroke. Furthermore, the dogs sunburn, just like you and me!

My Dog Valentino
Dogs with lighter coloring and shorter hair, like my dog Valentino, have the disadvantage that with the summertime sun their skin is apt to burn more easily.

Yes, dogs do get sunburns and have heat strokes, just like you and me, so watch over them with compassion and caution.

Take Steps to Beat the Heat

Here are some dog pawsitive tidbits for how to keep dogs cool in the hot summer sun … take heed!

An elder dog's body heats up at a quicker pace than young pups.

I follow my dog's lead, paying attention to her signals for a stop in the walk! At the same time, I pay close attention, too, in case she herself is going to overdo and then I take the lead. Some dogs don't know when to quit doing what they love and rest and relax instead.

I pretty much always knew when Tidbit's energy level was down and she wasn't able to go beach combing with me. A block from the house is the stop sign and crossover to the pathway to the beach. She let me know by coming to a full stop at the road and she wouldn't budge!

Reminder: High body temperatures are not good for dogs and could be a sure sign of a heat stroke, or other medical issue, so monitor this carefully.

Water helps heat evaporate. Cool puppies and dogs before their temperature rises. When beach walking with Tidbit, I made sure she waded up to her belly in water occasionally, to help keep her cool.

If neighborhood walking and it is hot outdoors, I may spray the dog just a bit with the water hose. Or, better yet, I've been known to run through a neighbor's sprinklers while walking my dogs!

Dog Lovers Flowers Postcard
Dog Lovers Postcard by abitosunshine

Take time to stop and smell the flowers along your way! 

This is a good way to give a dog a break for rest, but of course a shady spot works best. Rest time also gives me a moment to pet the dog and check their body heat. If the fur is too warm it is time to cool off, drink a bit of water, and head home.

Tidbit and I enjoyed every chance we had to walk the beach a block from our home. However, we learned the lesson well that the sun can bake a beachcomber right into a heat stroke!

During the hottest days of summer we planned our walks in time for sunrise or sunset, the cooler parts of the day. And, oft times the most picturesque, I must say.

Even when just hanging around the house we need to take steps to keep our dogs cool. Plan outdoor activity around cool spots for the dog as well as for yourself.

Here you see, I pick time and place where my dog can lay in the shade instead of in the sunny spots on deck. Tidbit and I spent a lot of time in the evenings out on the deck--me reading and she guarding the deck steps from intruders--we protected each other!

Cool Comforts of Home

Sometimes it is best for a dog to stay in the cool comfort of home!

There are many days between July and October when the temperatures rise into the 90 and 100 degrees danger zone. When this happened, my dog Tidbit and I chose to stay indoors enjoying our creature comforts of home. The air conditioning is generally set at 76 degrees and if someone tampers with it, she moved to lay right on top of the AC vent on the floor beside my desk chair! (She was one spoiled old girl, and a tattletale to boot!)

Our potty walks were short and sweet, out the door and right back in! Tidbit had a couple of yard spots that met with her approval for doing her business.

When we cooped ourselves up inside, Tidbit was content to lay on “her” sofa, watching over me on the computer through the cutouts in the wall. Yes, we were both happy to be work at home women.

Here I captured the sunrise while walking with Tidbit on the beach here in north Florida. It was around 70 degrees already. Can you imagine how hot that sun was at high noon? It became a sultry 87 degrees! Precisely why we try to plan our beach walks in the coolness of the morning.

Heat Stroke Warning

If a dog exhibits these signs of distress, it's a sure sign the dog needs professional help: Collapse, lethargy, heavy and rapid panting, hot-to-the-touch body, excessive drooling, anxiety, unresponsive to commands or attention, or redness around eyes, gums, or skin.

If you think your dog may be suffering heat stroke, get help! You need to immediately cool the dog down, while contacting your veterinarian.

An Ounce of Prevention

The well known saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." is actually from The Philadelphia's Union Fire Company, organized by, and the statement was made by, Benjamin Franklin. This cautionary quote certainly applies to that great ball of fire in the sky and its effect on our canine friends!

How do you protect the dogs who love you from the hot dog days of summer?

Share your summer day dog story on a blog post of your own and link up with us this week for PAWSIT Hop Saturday! You can submit your blog links any time throughout the week.

Grab the InLinkz code for your PAWSit post.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dog Walk In Search Of Sunshine

When the sun hides behind the threat of thunderstorm clouds all day I figure it is time to walk the dog in search of a bit of sunshine. Find it we did!

Native Florida wildflowers to the rescue!

I think my dog Valentino enjoys Spring flowers and Florida sunshine as much as I do. On our neighborhood walk today he led me out of the clouds and into a patch of sunny yellow wildflowers.

Florida Wild Flowers

While many consider these native Florida wildflowers weeds, I consider them welcome sprinkles of sunshine.  Obviously, my dog does too!

Share your dog-related story or review on a blog post of your own and link up with us this week for PAWSIT Hop Saturday! You can submit your blog links any time throughout the week.

Grab the InLinkz code for your PAWSit post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stop Dog Fighting No Bones About It

While we make no bones about our disgust for organized dog fighting, dogs do enjoy gnawing on a meaty soup bone now and again.

My dog Valentino with his first ham soup bone - a gift from our neighbor!

I gave my dog his gift of a bone on our deck ... Alone! That way, there could be no fights with other dogs and I could supervise him with this dog treat to prevent him from chewing the bone itself and possibly getting splinters that would be harmful. Funny thing ... Valentino chewed all the meat off and walked away, having little interest in chewing the bone!

Valentino did share his bone with his shadow! (Just for me to shadow play, I suppose.)

Having consulted my copy of Chase's Calendar of Events, I knew well in advance that today is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. While this is a cause worth writing about year-round I chose to highlight it in my Wordless Wednesday post this week as a reminder to all who love pets and animals.

I am linking our bones tale up with Wordless Wednesday, hosted by the BlogPaws community.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

If I Should Die Before My Dog Book

If I Should Die Before My Dog
There comes a time when dog owners wonder what might happen to their precious pets should they no longer be able to care for them or (heaven forbid) they should die before their dogs.

In their book "If I Should Die Before My Dog —" Joe Connolly and Cathy Connolly have addressed this concern of preparing a place and a future for our dogs without us. The authors do so with the compassion and caring that only those with canine companions of their own can feel.

Many of us have known the loss of a beloved dog but it would be more grievous to know our dog would be wearing a sad face if we were no longer with them. Joe and Cathy Connolly know this too and they have written a book for your dog and for you. They have authored the book with the sole purpose of giving you the peace of mind of knowing your dog will have a happy home, a happy future, a happy face — even if the dog must be without you.

Rehoming Your Dog

Authors Joe and Cathy Connolly have addressed the issue of rehoming your dog with utmost care. There is a special page in the book "If I Should Die Before My Dog" entitled Where Will I Go Now?
Before you can no longer care for your dog, set about finding a new home for your dog. Designate the person with whom your dog will live if not with you.

Once you have carefully chosen the person who will care for your dog in your absence you will want to talk with them at length. Share your concerns with them and answer any questions they may have.

Share this book with them. Write the answers down in detail. There are extra pages in the book for all those special little things the carer of your dog will need to know. With, or without you, your dog needs to feel at home.

Book Illustrations

Throughout the pages of the book "If I Should Die Before My Dog —" you will find the most delightful illustrations. In black and white, illustrator Rod Lawrence captures the color of a dog's life.

A Personal Note to Me from Rod Lawrence, Illustrator

Spirit Dogs on Amazon
Hi Ruth:
Thanks for your nice comments on my illustrations for the book. I've done a number of dog portrait commissions and really enjoyed doing them. For whatever reason, I consider them to be some of my better work. Previous to this book I did some dog illustrations for a small book called Spirit Dogs: Heroes in Heaven. That turned into a novel (I did the cover for it) and it is now turning into a trilogy (I'm working on the second cover now.) So I have done quite a few pieces of art that feature dogs. I've had dogs most of my life so putting them into my art is somewhat an extension of that.
At this point, the plan is to have me do the illustrations for the "cat" book. I haven't done any of them yet as it is still in the works, but I have been lining up some "models" to work from! I have not had as much experience working on cats, but several of my more recent paintings have been of cats, one of which is available as a limited-edition print.

Author Cathy Connolly says:

People are asking about a cat book, truth is_____ IT"S already Copyrighted AND YES, Rod Lawerence will be doing the illustrations!! We could never forget about our precious kitties, after all our house is ruled by one beautiful bossy calico named Lily!!

Prepare Your Dogs For A Future Without You

If I Should Die Before My Dog

This book is so much more than a book about man's best friend. It is the book every dog owner should have in his hand. It is the gift you should give to every dog lover you know. No home - no family - with a puppy or dog should be without it.

I WILL prepare a safe place for my dog Valentino by designating a caretaker in my absence and sharing important information in my copy of this book.

Have you planned ahead for the care of your dogs in the event of your absence?

Share your dog story on a blog post of your own and link up with us this week for PAWSIT Hop Saturday! You can submit your blog links any time throughout the week.

Grab the InLinkz code for your PAWSit post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Off Leash Dog Chews Tree Branch

While dogs chewing on and ingesting wood is not recommended, sometimes a chunk of wood becomes a playful teaching tool when walking the dog.

Along our pathway, my dog Valentino pulled an old piece of tree branch out of the woods and commenced with chewing. But of course, I had him drop it so I could take a good look at what he was chewing on. It was fairly rotted so I was confident he would not get a splinter in his mouth from it as it basically crumbled as he chewed upon it. And (good dog that he is) he would chew, then spit the wood chips out, not swallowing them.

I grabbed this as an opportunity to give him some off-leash dog training since I knew his focus would stay on his treasure. Letting go of the leash, I tossed the piece of wood about twenty-five feet ahead. He ran as fast as he could, grabbed it, and returned close to the spot where I took it from him originally!

We did this over and over again until we finally made it home and the priceless puppy look on his face as he held that piece of tree limb in his own yard made for sheer pleasure for me. Although, he seemed a bit concerned that I might take it away from him again!

And yes, I did grab the piece of wood one last time, this time tossing it deep into the wooded area from whence it came. A couple of special dog treats later Valentino forgot all about that chunk of wood.

My dog and I arrived home in time to share our tree branch fun with you via the Wordless Wednesday blog hop hosted by the BlogPaws community. (We were a bit wordy, as is generally the case!)