Life's a game and so is your Instagram.

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Some people may know this and others may not but I am getting my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and I’m set to graduate in September. I am currently writing my dissertation and I can almost see the finish line. I am writing my dissertation on social media and the impact it has on women’s self-esteem, body image, and overall mental health because when I started his dissertation project in January 2017 my experience with Instagram wasn’t a positive one. Flash forward to a year later I have a completely different perspective of Instagram and it’s capabilities.

One of the biggest differences is that I stopped taking it so seriously. I do still struggle on my personal Instagram and I am fully aware of that but while on Pax’s I feel that I’m in this super happy, super safe, and ultra positive environment. I’ve had my moments of self-doubt of course and comparison and frustration comes with that as well- but I’m able to get over it within minutes and turn it around. I find myself judging my own artistic vision less and enjoying the process so much more.

But why? Because I’m not taking it so seriously anymore. It’s fun and light. I’m competitive which keeps me going but I’m playing Instagram like a game. I shut it off when I want to and I play super hard when I’m feeling the vibe. I’m able to leave it at the door and put down the phone.

And you know what? Just like Instagram life is a game and you have to engage in it in order for it grow. Through my research of understanding how accounts grow I’ve learned that Instagram has manual just like any video game.  It has rules, secret codes, other players, and even rewards! The algorithm is such that the more active you are (commenting on photos, liking pictures, posting stories etc…) the higher percentage other people will start to follow you and see you “trending”. The whole thing is a game. So why are we taking it SO seriously!? Why do we compare to other people’s accounts? Is it because we are competitive and we are trying to do a modern age keeping up with Jones’s? Is it because when we get likes or comments we automatically feel liked and and accepted? I encourage you to try looking at your Instagram like a game this week- engage when you want to, don’t judge yourself when you’re “slacking”, catch up when you’re ready. Allow yourself to follow the ebb and flow of life and you’ll have so much more fun playing the game.  

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Pax's first road trip!

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Jarrod (my husband) and I love to travel. We usually leave the country 1-2 times a year and since we got Pax it gets harder and harder to leave. This year we decided to travel with him! Unfortunately, with my boating accident earlier this year we didn’t want to go to far or fly for too long so we decided on a road trip around california! 

Pax loves the car. I think part of it has to do with the fact that he’s been in the car since day once and we drove 6+ hours home with him in my arms. When we go outside he always runs to the car and thinks we are headed somewhere. 

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We get asked a lot about our top road trip tips. A few months ago I posted about Brittany & Layla’s road trip and her tips. So here I am to add to the list from our own experience. We started our journey in San Diego and stopped in Orange County, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco, Napa, Mendocino, & Santa Barbara. We chose those destinations one because we have family in several of them and also because they are very dog friendly. We stayed in hotels in San Francisco, Napa, and Santa Barbara. San Francisco we stayed at the Hyatt Regency - they are dog friendly! We stayed at a fabulous hotel in Napa called the Archer Hotel. They were absolutely pawesome!! Their concierge set up a wine tour for us at all dog friendly wineries. Lastly, in Santa Barbara we stayed at a Kimpton hotel called the Canary Hotel. Once again, beyond accommodating. We found all of these hotels through our chase points and then calling to confirm they are dog friendly. When we were checking in we had to fill out a few pieces of paper that references his breed/name/details..etc. Mendocino’s airbnb was very appropriate as it was on an apple orchid and had acres for him to run around. The restaurants weren't as friendly so we ended up staying in and cooking the few nights we were there.

Best way to find out if places are dog friendly is to google it, ask around, use yelp or bring fido. Most websites will also express if they are dog friendly!

Here are additional tips that I think are helpful:

  1. We mapped out our journey to spend max 3 - 3 1/2 hours in the car. the one day we drove farther than that we stopped several times to let pax out and give him water. 

  2. Pax wasn’t hungry at his normal hours probably because of all the new settings so we brought a cooler of all his my ollie and put his bowl in there and kept trying to feed him when we stopped

  3. Call hotels & activities (we went wine tasting for example) and find out if they are dog friendly or check out online. 

    1. Yelp is helpful (and you can search within the reviews) for dinner reservations in most areas

    2. Bring Fido 

    3. Plain old google 

  4. Bring ALL grooming supplies 

  5. Pack towels - never know when you’ll need to wipe some paws! 

  6. Treats, chews, and only a few toys

  7. Google local vets in the area before going 

  8. Make sure you understand local laws 

  9. Google dog parks and read the reviews!! 

  10. We brought both a pop up bowl for water and a dog water bottle for him 


Hope this was helpful! Enjoy the road! xo

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Searching for Polly

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A dog parent’s worst nightmare is the thought of their furry child getting lost or stolen. This nightmare came true for Polly’s parents when they out of town with Polly one weekend. Luckily, Polly was found safe and sound! Allie, Polly’s mom, learned so much about lost dogs and how to find them during the experience. With all this learning Allie wants to spread the word to make sure that if this happens to you - you know what to do! Take a read below & make sure to check out @thelifeof.polly on instagram!! These are incredible tips and I feel so grateful that Allie has shared this guide with all of us!! Happy reading & hug your furry baby close tonight!

Comprehensive Guide For Losing Your Dog: What To Know & What To Do

By Allie Schamburg

I decided to make this guide after losing my 5-month-old petite Goldendoodle puppy named Polly in a remote area I had never been to before. Trying to spend time fielding all the social media messages, advice, and internet articles while still looking for her, trying to gather the correct supplies and technology, make posters, leave scent trails, etc. made it really hard to figure out the best way to spend our time in each second. I am not a professional and this is just my opinion. But if someone is struggling I believe the information included here can provide most information needed in a consolidated place, so you can get back out there and spend more time looking and spend less time researching and gathering info.

First Things To Do:

DO NOT START SCREAMING FOR YOUR PET, calling loudly, frantically, shouting, or saying anything in a distressed or fearful voice. Even if you think you are masking your fear, dogs can often still pick up on this. If they hear distress in your voice or loud voices, they assume the situation is not safe. Then they may not come to you. Try using clapping and whistling. The crinkle of a treat bag. Your running car. Use calm, friendly, happy, conversational voices. Use words like their name, treat, or come. Don’t drag out your words in a calling tone. Try calling someone and talking on the phone while walking around. Them hearing your casual conversational voice could lead them to come out if they can hear you. If you are an owner, do try to talk in a conversational voice, so if your dog hears someone coming they have a chance to recognize your voice.

Look for them, look for them, keep looking! Most pets are found within 5 miles of where they were lost. Get as many people as you can to help look. The more people you have looking, the better your chances are. You don’t even need them to catch them, all you need is a sighting. The people that find their dogs the fastest are the people that do not stop looking from the moment they go missing.

Post online! (Details on how and where below.) Many towns have active Facebook groups specifically for your neighborhoods, lost and found pets, etc. Social media should absolutely be utilized. It is much easier to find a pet when an entire community is keeping an eye out for your furry loved one!

Flyers and Posters are the #1 way that pets get home, so be sure to get posters up and hand out flyers to your neighbors. (Details on how below).

Leave out Scents for them. Smells are the # 1-way dogs can find their way back to you. Cook up hot, smelly, and/or greasy food and put it outside. Rotisserie chicken, pizza, sausage, etc. The heat makes the scent travel further. Try breaking up the food in pieces to emit more scent. Put their dog treats or dog food in a bowl with water, heat it up and place that outside. If you can obtain a grill, even one of those mini portable grills from a convenience store that already has the briquettes in it. Get that and cook up some chicken or meat. This will keep the heated scents going longer. Place out articles of clothing of the owner(s). Underwear or things like jackets that you have worn a lot. Pillowcases or blankets you’ve been using. Place out items that smell like the dog - dog bet, blanket, harness, collar, etc. I have even heard to bottle owner’s urine and sprinkle out in the front yard. If the dog has been peeing and pooping where they were lost, that’s good too because they will pick up on the scent.

Article for what to do first: http://www.missingdogsmass.com/create-a-flyer?fbclid=IwAR3De7KDDOT0dUMFY36PZ8J0ft3E7Aiysrq_sBI-nWmKm4rxYUJUwKEUhp0

Great info for losing your dog while camping or in the wilderness: https://lostdogsofamerica.org/lost-a-dog-while-rving-here-are-some-tips-to-help/

Prevention:

Microchip your pets. Microchips do not have GPS but they have information, so if someone brings them to an animal facility, they will be able to identify you as the owners and will have your contact information. We use Save This Life. Save This Life also helps by creating a poster if you lose your pet.

Always wear a collar with name tag and phone numbers on it. 

If you are in an area that you think they may get spooked, be extra careful. Have them leashed. Do not leave doors open.

Buy a GPS tracker for your dog that attaches to their collar. Whistle Labs is one company that makes these.

More Tips:

If you are not familiar with the area, find a local(s) that can help you with the geography, correctly canvas the area, and even will know a lot of locals that can help go door to door letting neighbors know to be on the lookout. When I lost my puppy in an area I didn’t know at all, I had almost a sort of liaison for the city. She helped me understand the geography and terrain, which roads connected to which forests, who lived at which houses, who else could help us, best places to look, etc. This was an invaluable resource for us.

If you or someone else finds your dog, do not shout or chase after it. Sit or get low to the ground and stay still and calm. Have some treats on you. Try tossing the treats out at the dog to lure him/her towards you. Slowly inch towards the dog as you are doing this until you can grab them. If they run away, do not chase them as this will cause them to run further and make your search harder. Make sure you tell others helping this information.

Try to have one of the owners home in the early morning. This is often a time dogs feel safer because there is less going on, and they will try to find their way back to you.

Always be carrying treats with you, in case you see them so you can lure them to you with treats!

Leave lights on, and the door cracked open if safe so they can get back in if they find their way again.

Even if there are coyotes in the area, don’t worry or lose hope! Coyotes actually very rarely bother lost dogs. It is technically possible but much less common than perceived.

Even if it is snowing or below freezing, don’t lose hope! Dogs are actually very hearty and able to survive below freezing temps.

Try and look for dog paw prints in the dirt when you are searching.

Write “MISSING DOG” with phone number on all you vehicles. As you are driving around people may notice, and some people have found their dogs this way.

Try using a dog whistle. They may be lost in the woods and could be able to follow the sound.

Call and report your missing dog to the following:

  1. Your Microchip company

  2. Any local or state-wide animal rescue/non profit organizations (Humane Societies, Animal Rescues)

  3. Local police and sheriffs departments

  4. All local vets

  5. Local animal shelters

  6. Local news - request them to share your Facebook post

  7. Complete online listings on the following:

  8. Helping Lost Pets - pick your state: http://www.helpinglostpets.com/

  9. NextDoor - https://nextdoor.com/

  10. PawBoost - https://www.pawboost.com/

Facebook:

Create a Facebook post with details on the situation, location last seen, contact information if sighted, and picture of pet. Include something sentimental about how much you love your dog and need to find them! Ex. “Our dog is truly our family and we are devastated he/she is missing. We will do anything to be reunited as a family again. Please help if you are able!” Post it to the following:

VERY IMPORTANT that you post this directly from your own FB account and make it PUBLIC. This way, if people see your post on a private group they can still go to your profile and share it.

The Facebook group for the town that your dog is lost in. Ex. “Harpers Ferry, IA” This one is the most important to post on!

Facebook group for lost dogs in your state. Ex. “Lost Dogs Iowa”, “Iowa - Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets”, “Lost/Missing Dogs of Iowa”, “Cedar Rapids, IA - Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets”. Use the search function to find more.

Facebook groups for the kind of breed you have. Ex. “Goldendoodles Rock!”, “iheartgoldendoodles”.

Local buy/trade/sell page

Any other lost pet Facebook groups you can find

Instagram:

If you have Instagram, copy and paste your Facebook post and put in on Instagram as well.

Posters and Flyers:

Some local pet rescue organizations may be able to help you make these. Otherwise, supplies and instructions below:

Sign materials:

  • Neon poster board - 2 per sign, front and back - Dollar Store

  • Fiberboard - 1 per sign - Dollar Store

  • 36 inch Wooden Stakes - Hardware Store

  • Magnum Sharpie - Hardware Store

  • Gallon size ziplock bags - non-pleated bottom - Dollar Store or Hardware Store

  • Print 8.5x11 pics of your dog

  • Print 8.5x11 pic of your phone number - Word Doc or your can write the number with the thick marker

  • Staple Gun

  • Clear Packing Tape

  • Large clear plastic bags to cover the whole sign - Hardware Store or you can cover with clear packing tape or clear contact paper. The tape and contact paper hold up longer but is more costly than the bags.

Sign Making Tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USOjceq8GXc&fbclid=IwAR3NjBd-h4ELBWmVJIo9gSJnro4h7cKnKW_Lj3D9Kblw0YbSFQnv_AL7yKw

Flyer Template - Get about 100 made and distribute to the area residents, stores, animal shelters, etc.

Example shown in photo above with heading “LOST DOG”

Caution:

Don’t Get Scammed: https://www.pawboost.com/blog/2017-4-21-how-to-recognize-and-avoid-the-lost-pet-scam/?utm_swu=4248&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BewareScammersAgnosticLost&utm_content=link

Be careful about walking on to people’s property without asking first. Most people are incredibly kind and want to help but some can be dangerous so be careful.

If you are in an area with bears, be careful about leaving out food.

If it is hunting season and you are out in the woods, be careful. Buy orange hunting clothing.

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Notes from speaking with pet rescue professionals:

Dogs will do one of three: fight, flight, or freeze. If your dog is extremely small, it MAY freeze. This would mean hiding or burrowing. However, VAST MAJORITY of lost or scared dogs will flight. This means they will be moving on the run. Unless your dog thinks it could beat a coyote or wolf in a fight, it’s not going to fight. This being said, do not assume your dog is nearby cowering and hiding. Yes it is possible, but it is likely they have been running. They likely have traveled 1-2 miles. As time passes, this number could increase.

When dogs are afraid they run run run until they are less scared, then they slow down and explore, until they pick up a familiar scent…then start back tracking. If safe, leave house door open while you go searching.

Sometimes dogs won’t come out for one owner but will for another.

Leave the car door open anytime you get out to look while searching. Dogs have made a run for it and jump in while the owner was out hanging flyers.

Don’t expect your dog to act normally in this situation. It may be very scared and acting based on instinct. This could mean they will not come even if you call them, because they are too scared and considering everyone and everything a predator.

7/10 found dogs are found because they make their way back to you. 3/10 are found because someone searching spots them and is able to pick them up. 

Dogs go by scent more than anything else. 

Many dogs will come back and try to find you early morning when things are calm and quiet outside.

If at all possible, have the owner bring a chair and sit outside in the place the dog was lost from. They will be most likely to come up to you. Your scent will help them find you. Keep hot and smelly or greasy food out with you. Dog treats. Their dog blanket. Your underwear. Anything that smells like them and you will help them by providing a scent. 

Is your dog typically friendly or skittish and scared around humans? If friendly, they may “turn themselves in” to a human eventually. If skittish, they may be too scared to.

Does your dog like other dogs? If you have access to another dog bring them out to search with you. Their scent, especially if they pee and poop, could help lead your dog to you.

They will rarely make noise because they are scared of predators. If any noise, it would be crying.

Supplies to consider getting:

  1. Fat Max Spotlights

  2. Live Trap

  3. Drone

  4. FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera

  5. Orange hunting clothes if in woods

  6. If you can find someone with a blood hound, they may be able to help track

  7. Recommended Pet Rescue Organizations (that I personally worked with):

  8. HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) - Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin

  9. Humane Society of Northeast Iowa

  10. The Retrievers - Minnesota

  11. Missing Dogs Massachusetts

Pet Recovery Professionals:

These people can bring dogs that can track the scent of lost dogs. They can be very expensive especially if they have to travel. Make sure you have correct expectations; there is no guarantee they will definitely find your pet. In fact in my case, even though I was willing to pay, I was basically told the chance was so slim they felt it would not be ethical to accept the money and take the job at all. The longer your pet is gone the harder it will be for the tracking dog to find the missing dog.

  • Bonnie Hale, Pet Detective, Texas: http://www.lostpetspecialist.com/index.html

  • Angie, Lost Pet Professionals, Arkansas: http://k9pi.com/angie_rutherford.html

  • Karin TarQwyn, K9 PI: http://k9pi.com/

  • Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery, New York/Tri State Area (have been told they are very hard to get ahold of, and they were not responsive to me): https://www.buddhadogrescueandrecovery.com/

  • John Keane, Sherlock Bones: https://www.sherlockbones.com/

Don’t lose hope! Dogs can survive weeks and even months on their own, even in the cold. I know a lot of information can be conflicting, even in this info packet. I want to leave you with the thought that YOU know your dog. The truth is, they could do any number of things. The whole time I thought my puppy was hiding somewhere near, she had actually been on the move and traveling a very far distance. I was thinking more about her tendency to be fearful, but thinking back, she is a Goldendoodle who loves to run so I should have thought about that possibility sooner. As long as you are trying, what ever you are doing is NOT WRONG! Think about your dogs personality and maybe what they would do in this specific situation. I know you cannot predict it but there is no one answer, so go with your gut. Or better yet, try multiple different tactics. Keep switching it up. Remember to give them clues so they can try to make their way back to you. And don’t give up until you find them!

Stories - To Give You Hope & Ideas:

Polly’s Story:

It is truly a miracle that we were reunited with Polly. Here is a picture of her right after she got back to us. Some friends and I were staying out in Harpers Ferry, IA for a fun cabin weekend. On Sunday morning she got spooked while the front door was open and took off sprinting. I went screaming yelling after her as fast as I could but she was gone just like that.

What was a fun relaxing weekend with friends quickly turned into a nightmare in a remote unfamiliar area in the country. No lights, vast, heavily wooded areas with extremely steep cliff-like angles, slippery mud leading down to creeks. Huge fields with tall thick brush, huge thorny branches and burrs everywhere. Coyotes and the possibility of eagles or wolves. Our hope was that Polly make it out of the forest without getting stuck or eaten and would get back up to a house, but many of those were empty as many are weekend homes. This was in freezing cold rain and heavy winds in the low 40s. We didn’t even have boots or coats for the first maybe 7 hours. We just kept walking through forests fields or around houses looking. It was also hunting season there. One of the most terrifying parts was when a man actually lock and loaded a gun and pointed it at me for being on his property even though he knew I was just looking for my lost puppy.

We took turns sitting out on the porch all night in case she showed up. We each slept maybe 1-2 hrs total. I have never been more scared than I was this weekend in my whole life.

However, the most fantastic part of this story is the people. Every time I was about to lose hope and break down, someone was always there to hold me up. Strangers and family alike. There is no way we ever could have done this alone. Our family and friends, all the non-profit organizations and volunteers, professional pet rescuers and the social media communities were all amazing in helping us. HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team), Humane Society of Northeast Iowa, The Retrievers. But the most amazing was the people of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding areas. The entire community dropped what they were doing to help search for her and gather any resources possible. I was astounded at the non-wavering hope in finding this tiny dog and their relentless efforts to find her. Debbie Mink, thank you for being my guardian angel throughout this entire situation. We could not have done it without you.

I am tearing up again writing this. So many tears throughout this weekend. But the best was Polly’s tears of happiness when she was finally reunited with us. A kind man found her out in his yard 3 miles from our cabin. As soon as he came outside, she walked right up to him. She wanted to be found by humans and was essentially turning herself in. He brought her right in with dog food after 26 hours out in the wilderness, read her dog tag, called us, and we came and picked her right up. It’s estimated she traveled 10-11 miles based on a sighting the previous morning. I’m so proud of Polly for getting out of the forest and finding a home with people there.

It was truly a miracle she was brought back to us, and I am so happy our family is reunited again. Thank you again so much to everyone for your love, support, advice, help, & prayers. And GO POLLY for making her way back to us!!

Toxic & Non-Toxic Plants for Dogs

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When Pax was a little puppy, we noticed that he kept ripping leaves of our dracaena plant. We would find the leaves scattered around the house. At the same time, we saw he would throw up or have an upset tummy while displaying lethargy. When we went to the vet, they ruled out all parasites and other possibilities. I shared with our vet about the dracaena plant, and she let me know that it is mildly toxic to dogs and we should move the plant.

Luckily I am a black thumb and have a lot of fake plants in my house, but I do have three real ones. A fiddle leaf fig “figgy cent” who has since past (rest in peace), a snake plant, and the dracaena. Once I learned that specific plants could be dangerous for Pax, I began to research the ones we could not have in the house. Also, I just decided that being black thumb suited me and I’ll stick to the fake ones :)

Please be mindful with purchasing new plant babies and introducing them to your furry baby some of them can cause serious effects.

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Here are just 12 toxic plants to dogs:

1. Autumn Crocus

2. Azalea flowers

3. Daffodil flowers

4. Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) houseplant

5. Tulip (especially the bulb)

6. Sago Palm (extremely poisonous)

7. Dracaena Plant

8. Fiddle leaf fig

9. Snake Plant

10. Ivy

11. Pathos (Devil’s Ivy)

12. Caladium (Elephant’s ear)

IF YOU ARE A GREEN THUMB! Don’t fret! There are dog-friendly plants to fill your house with :) Not all dogs eat plants or flowers so you may not even need to worry. However, just in case, make sure you know which plants are toxic vs. non-toxic and the signs to look for.

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Here are some SAFE plants for dogs!

1. Windmill Palm

2. Purple Basil

3. African Daisy

4. Creeping Rosemary

5. Heuchera (Coral Bells)

6. Pineapple Sage

7. Polka Dot Plant

8. Canna Lily

9. Fennel

10. Snapdragons

For more questions take a look at the following links. The ASPCA & Humane Society both have entire lists of toxic plants for dogs. Always talk to your vet and do your research! Below is also a list of dog-friendly options.

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list

https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/poisonous-plants-to-pets.pdf

https://www.rover.com/blog/10-safe-plants-dogs-can-add-almost-garden-right-now/

Pax's Pumpkin Poofs!

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Pax recently had a spout of giardia. While he had it, we had to switch his diet a few times. First, he was eating chicken and rice with his medication and a probiotic. Once we saw he was starting to feel better, we switched him back to his my ollie. It’s essential to change their food gradually- and even then there may be some tummy issues. It’s common for dogs to struggle with a bout of diarrhea and then to constipation. When it comes to constipation here are some signs to look for: 1) straining to go to the bathroom 2)scooting on their booty 3)hard or dry stool 4) not going to the bathroom for several days.

A few recommendations that our vet gave us were to feed Pax 1-2 TBS of canned pumpkin & 1-2 TBS of low-fat Keifer. It was also recommended to bake a pumpkin loaf or bread that is dog-friendly. I found a couple recipes and put one together.

Pumpkin Puppy Ball Ingredients:

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie mix)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup quick cook oats

  • 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil

  • 1 egg

  • ½ tsp. Vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp. honey

  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. Ginger

  • ¼ cup water

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Pumpkin Puppy Ball Directions:

  • Preheat oven 350° F.

  • Lightly grease or spray the cookie sheet (we lined foil on the sheet)

  • Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until oats are about half powder.

  • Then place all remaining items from the list in a large bowl and mix together.

  • Grab spoonfuls from the ball and roll the dough into a ball.

  • Sprinkle oatmeal on top of each pumpkin ball to add crunch.

  • Bake for 15-16 minutes until tops are golden brown.

When muffins have cooled store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Check out this article by the AKC on dog constipation and support they need.

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-constipation/


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One sick puppy :)

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It’s a helpless feeling knowing that your dog can’t engage in conversation with you (although I swear pax understands English) especially when they are feeling under the weather! There are clear-cut signs that you can be on the lookout for if your dog has caught a bug. Dogs pick up actual bugs all the time- parasites are common in young dogs as they build their immune system. Recently, Pax was diagnosed with giardia which is a single cell parasite that lives in his intestine. It can impact older dogs, but it is more frequent in younger ones. Dogs become infected with the parasite when they drink water or ingest other substances that have poo particles in it. Or even have rolled around in the grass that is soiled with feces…such as the dog park and then cleaning themselves. For most dogs, their reaction when infected with giardiasis is diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite, and the symptoms can range from dog to dog, and some dogs don’t show signs at all! Luckily, Pax got a mild form, and he’s on the mend with some antibiotics and rest. Giardia is contagious and also be spread to humans so it’s important to do a deep cleaning of areas that could have contamination such as bedding, crates, toys, dog food, and water bowls.

So a couple questions I’ve been asked is 1) how did I know he was sick and 2) how can they prevent it from happening to their dog.

First off, I am very in tune with Pax’s routine and his energy levels. If he’s sleeping more than usual, not eating at his usual times, I like to check a couple things. First, I check his gums to make sure that they are pink and healthy. I also press my forefinger on his gums to make sure it bounces back quickly. I then look and smell in his ears to make sure there is no infection. Change in behavior is definitely an indicator that something could be off. But don’t worry it could just be an off day for them as well. If your dog is continually irritable, lethargic, showing signs of agitation, withdrawal, or needy behavior and it’s new that’s definitely something to check into.

Of course, there are other clear signs that something is wrong like if your dog isn’t breathing or they are wheezing and choking. A persistent cough could indicate kennel cough which is common in young puppies.

Checking your pup’s poop is essential as it will give you a lot of indication something is going on. For us, there was mucus in Pax’s stool that looked different than normal. He was also vomiting bile a few times which brought concern since he does not do that regularly. If your pup has trouble passing urine or stool that’s something to be aware of. And the opposite, if your pup is having diarrhea and is having tummy troubles that last over 24 hours take your pup in. I ALWAYS call my vet when something seems off. Pax vomited once on one day, so I figured maybe he ate something that upset his belly and he seemed fine. But he then vomited 4 additional times on different days which was very usual. We contacted our vet who advised us to come in. Be aware of your dog’s patterns of eating, going to the bathroom, and what their stool looks like.

Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from different sources:

  • Does your dog have a fever? you’ll need a thermometer to get an actual reading.

  • lumps bumps?

  • sudden weight gain or weight loss?

  • persistent itching

  • persistent shaking of head or scratching at ears

Here are 5 helpful suggestions:

1. Wash all bedding, toys that could be infected

2. Wash your floors, your bedding, and anywhere that could re-infect them

3. Go to the vet where they can determine if your pup is dehydrated and give them fluids, a diagnosis, and medication

4. Follow the medications prescribed by your vet. Your dog most likely won’t like the taste of some of them so be patient and “trick” them into it. For example, Pax has to take a liquid right now, and I pour the liquid over chicken I made him, and he eats it away.

5. Remember your energy when you are giving them medications- stay calm, patient, and kind. They are most likely scared or nervous about the new item and don’t like the taste. I sit with pax on the floor and hand feed him until he’s ready to take the medication. Come up with a creative way to have them take their medicine.

To get additional tips to check out:

https://wagwalking.com/daily/8-warning-signs-dog-may-sick

http://www.petsandparasites.org/dog-owners/giardia-in-dogs/

Tips for when you work from home & have a dog!

Working from home has it’s major perks. One of the best parts about working from home is hanging out with my best buddy all day. It also has it’s benefits such as increased happiness, reduced stress levels, increased productivity, more hugs and exercise! But it’s not just as simple as us gazing into each other’s eyes all day. Many times throughout the day I feel guilty about Pax in the house too long or not surrounding him with furry friends all day. So, I make an effort (well, I use to before the accident) to take him on a good 20-25 minute morning walk a 15 minute late afternoon walk and take him to the park in the evening every night to run around with all his little friends. Right now, it’s been tough since I don’t mobility to take him walks and I can tell he gets restless. However, dogs are very intuitive and he’s been sleeping a lot while I’m recovering. When I’m on conference calls or have meetings I don’t have an office with a receptionist taking packages or answering other phone calls. It can get a bit noisy when I’m in my home office and amazon delivers in the middle of the day and Pax decides he’s the man of the house and says hello to the mail man.

Here are some tips that might be helpful! 

  • Exercise your pup in the morning- they will then be ready for nap time! It will also be a great way for you to start your morning. 

  • If you can try and take a break at your lunch time and take your dog out for a quick walk to stretch both of legs!

  • Don’t take yourself so seriously! Your pup might want your attention, bark, walk on top of your keyboard- it’s all OK! Enjoy these moments- they are reminders not to take life so seriously! 

  • Hire a dog walker. Even though you are at home and you might feel like you “SHOULD” be able to do everything your job might not allow you the flexibility. This is a great opportunity to hire a dog walker or a friend that has a flexible schedule could help out as well. 

  • Try puzzle games to entertain your pup while your working away at your desk. 

  • LET GO of the mom guilt. It’s OK to entertain your pup and play a round of tug a war a couple times and give them a big belly rub. 

  • It might be easier to let go of guilt to set up designated play times. It is also important for you to stay in charge and not to let whimpers distract you or to give in. 

  • You may want to try crate training if your pup is a chewer or provide proper mental stimulation! 

If you work from home and have tips- comment below! 

selfishness vs selflessness- is there a difference?

I recently posted a blog post about my scary experience in the water. I was asked the question, “Was your husband ok with your decision?” I sat with it a couple days and I couldn’t let it go. Was my husband ok with my decision to jump in the water and save Pax. At first I was extremely taken back and went all feminist rant in my head. I asked the woman what she meant by it…a mom of 4 kids and a dog shared with me how selfless it was to jump in the water and save my dog. Am I not getting something? Am I not understanding the gravity of my situation? Why does it feel like it was literally a no brainer to jump in and DO something. It’s confusing but it’s also eye opening. We all share different perspectives. I am grateful to that reader for speaking up and sharing hers. We live in a world today that a lot of people who weren’t sharing their truth before are coming forward. What a powerful place to be in, to actually be able to SHARE what’s on your mind. If only we could also live in a world that was receptive to our thoughts and feelings.  I decided to ask the woman more questions and appreciate where she came from. And no, I didn’t ask Jarrod and I still haven’t asked Jarrod how he felt about me making the decision. Did he feel that I was impulsive? Reckless? Did he feel burdened by the amount of caregiving that he would have to embark on for the days to come? We all live in our own worlds, own head, own lives…even when we share our life with another person we are still on our solo journey. What an interesting concept, to need to check in with a partner about a decision being made. Part of me feels that it’s ridiculous to ask someone else (my spouse) “is it ok to jump in the water to save Pax and even if I die or get injured is it ok with you?” and at the same time is it a selfish decision to do that? Then it makes me think about selfishness and selflessness. My action to the dog was selfless but was it selfish to not think of others in my life? 

 When you put a blog post out there and you write from your soul- you only think about your own story. I think that’s a good thing because if you were thinking about all 500+ people who I saw read it that day- I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to post it. Now that I’ve received an alternative question about my decision making it has made me think much deeper about how we are all different yet beautiful beings. My hope from posting this is to shed light on our perspectives. How we are all human and this makes us unique. We go through different life experiences all the way starting from our entrance here on earth. Why do we question other people’s stories? How come we battle one another in politics, ideas, and even one’s own personal experience? I realize that as this account grows more and more personalities fall into the mix. I realize that by putting myself out there I allow for more push back and alternative perspective to land in my lap. Now, those are NOT things that I can control. What I can control is my action. My action to everything. To jumping off a moving boat to save my dog, to responding to my husband when he asks me to pick up after myself in the house. My responses to situations are what define my life- not the actual event. The events will constantly happen but my responses will change based off my experience. Does that make sense? They play off one another. What I know about jumping off a moving boat is different than it was before because it had never happened before.  How have you handled critical events in your past? Looking back would you change how you reacted? What have you learned from your experiences that have now evolved your perspective. 

So in the end, is there a difference between selfishness and selflessness? Because if we make one decision it impacts something else. Are our so-called selfless actions truly selfish- even when they feel good and fill us up?

By the way- I spoke with Jarrod before posting this and he called me, “brave” and was “proud to have a wife that would have jumped in the water to save our dog”… still it was a great conversation piece and perspective to have gained!

I am so grateful for all of your responses and questions about my recovery! If you are currently or have in the past experienced trauma or crisis and need some support or resources please contact me at nikki@leaderofthepax.com.

Yakima SixtySeven

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Yakima SixtySeven

Our story & dog boat safety

 It’s not easy to write this. I’ve tried 4 different times to write down the story and each time I get stuck at the same place. But last night, at 2am I was able to get it all out on paper.  So here it goes. My husband and I met on a Duffy electric boat, we got engaged on one, and we had one of the scariest experiences of our lives on one as well. On September 1st, 2018, we started out in Bay with another couple and all was well. As soon as we got on the boat I placed Pax’s life jacket on him and for some reason we decided to keep the leash on thinking that he probably wanted to go swimming but we had control of him… He decided to sit on the back area of the boat right behind Jarrod. About 5 minutes in the ride he slipped/ we think he jumped off the back right corner of the boat since he loves to swim. Jarrod said, “he’s in, babe he’s in” I jumped up and looked behind, Pax was on the corner of the boat paddling away with his life jacket keeping him afloat - this wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that his leash was caught and he was being pulled by the boat. Without thinking I dove straight in the water when I popped up I saw the boat was away from me and swam towards it. Jarrod was reaching down to grab the handle of Pax’s jacket and I was getting closer to the boat.

Once I was right behind the boat I kicked away as it was too close and they were able to grab Pax. My legs hit the boat propellers and I knew immediately something was wrong as it was a sharp immediate pain but also a state of calmness over my body. Fight or flight went into action and the adrenaline of everything just kicked in. I started to yell help, help me and my husband looked over at me like what? … I lifted my leg up out of the water and saw my skin flapped open on the top side of my foot. It looked different than other scratches and cuts I have had, I knew it was serious. My husband pulled me straight out from the water and that wasn’t easy. The length from water to the top of the boat was a large gap. They tied Pax’s leash around my right leg to create a truncate and called 911. The harbor police game and then the ambulance. We drove a million miles an hour to the hospital where I asked the EMT workers, “will I lose my leg?” …No response. I asked again and all I heard was the pain medicine they were administering and asking if I had any allergies. I sometimes wonder why ER people ask that because if you’ve never taken specific medication how are you supposed to know what you’re allergic to! Here’s to hoping! I don’t completely remember being pulled into the trauma center but was told we were heading there.  I learned that the difference between a trauma center and an emergency room is that is equipped to treat the highest risk injuries- think gunshot wounds, car accidents, major burns, boating accidents in this case. Trauma centers offer more extensive care than the ER. 

 I don’t remember being wheeled in but I do remember laying down staring at a bright white light with a million nurses and doctors zipping around my bed. The shock lasted for hours until I went into my first surgery. I ended up staying in the hospital for 10 days with 3 different surgeries. The surgeries consisted of sewing up some major lacerations on the right side and one laceration on the left ankle. The right leg had much more damage such as toe fractures & cutting the tendons that flex my toes and ankle. I sliced my right calf in half and have a total of 6 gashes between the two legs. They found a foreign object in my leg that wasn’t a boat propeller, maybe it was a fish – who knows? :)

Interestingly enough, when I was admitted into the trauma center on that fateful day I was given an alternative name by the team. They do this with all patients entering the wing as some patients come in unconscious or unable to speak or have any of their identifications. The name I was given was, Yakima Sixty-seven. When I googled what, it’s meaning was my mouth dropped wide open.

“You have a strong need for freedom - physical, mental and spiritual. You hate bondage in any form. You have love of beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You are willing to take spiritual matters on faith instead of subjecting them to mental analysis. You are inventive, intuitive and extremely methodical. Since your will is so strong, you are hard to convince.” When I looked up the numbers 67 I found that 67 is described as a sign from angels which are here to help you realize your higher purpose in life!! Furthermore, in numerology the number 67 represents the idea of family first and keeping them secure.  

Ha! If you know me on a personal level this sounds quite fitting don’t ya think? In the end my accident resulted in 6 lacerations, 2 fractured toes, and 2 right foot tendons severed. I am off my right foot for 6 weeks and will wear a boot for 8-10 of those weeks. I’ve started physical therapy with going up and down my staircase and little walking but won’t really know the state of my functionality until later this year. 

It could have been so much worse. That same day, someone was rushed to the hospital to treat the same type of incident and they lost their life. Another young woman lost her entire leg. This is temporary & I know that. It’s SO fascinating how and when things like this happen in your life. What do they teach us? What do they result in being for us? I don’t know the outcome of this but I do know that it’s given me a lot of time to think about what I want out of life and who I am as a person. I use to (and still do) come down on myself so hard. Whether it was my body and weight or something about my career or that I wasn’t doing enough. Now, just doing one thing a day is something to be grateful for. I speak kindly to my legs and send positivy and kisses to them multiple times a day. What an adventure life puts us on. This has defiantly prepared me for more challenging experiences to come…I am ready for them.  

During this time, I’ve been able to truly focus on Pax’s instagram and Leader of the Pax. The stories that that people have shared and the well wishes I have received have been priceless. Gratitude for my life has been my motivator through the recovery process. The first thing people say to me when they learn about the injury is, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this and you’re just so strong- hang in there!” The funny thing is, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry at all that this happened to me. The perspective I’ve gained is unlike any other.  Living in a hospital for going on 10 days is quite fascinating and you really learn a lot about yourself AND you have to let go of control. I’m so grateful for this experience no matter how painful it is because I’ve been able to see people, things, and my body at its most basic level. I’m a go go go person and FINALLY the universe said stop. So, while I was there I got to chat with my family and be present with them. I got to walk around the entire nurses’ station with the staff cheering me on and got to truly FEEL the accomplishment. I got to feel the swelling of my toes and the aftermath of walking. We go through life clicking likes and scrolling through pages without feeling each moment. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to be vulnerable enough to *feel* the core of each experience in order to grow. I know much more than I did before this experience happened and I know that I will triumph forward. 

Hopefully, you will never have to go through what I have experienced but just in case, here are some boat safety tips I have put together:  

Dog Boat Safety Tips: 

  1. Plan on what you will do in case of an emergency - such as your dog going overboard. 

  2. Practice the plan… I know this sounds ridiculous but it’s super important to know a few options you could do. Of course, in the event of the accident, it’s not going to go totally to plan so at least talk with those you are on the boat with what you would do. Ex: if someone jumps in make sure the boat is off. 

  3. Craft a doggy first aid kit… any medications your dog is on, Dramamine in case of sea sickness (make sure to ask your vet!)

  4. Make sure your pup is in a life jacket- even great swimmers can easily drown in rough waters. I swear that having Pax in a life jacket helped him stay above water and paddle! Also, most dog life jackets have a handle which helps you grab the handle and pull them back to safety (that is how my husband got him out of the water) 

  5. Did you know dogs need sunscreen too? Look for a dog friendly brand. 

  6. Plenty of water- especially if they go swimming. Dogs can become dehydrated on a hot sunny boat. 

  7. I wish we had better commands for being on the boat so he was trained to stay out of the water while the boat was moving…things like “on boat” or “off boat” — make sure to brush up on your basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, and leave it. 

  8. If you own a boat or your renting, try a non-slip pad for the bottom of your boat and let your pup try it out

  9. Additionally, let your pup check out the boat before you leave the dock to get comfortable. 

  10. Dogs are naturally curious and if they are not secure they can fall in. I’ve researched mixed results about the leash. Some of the articles I’ve read say keep the dog secure with a leash without much give another say have the dog free so if they fall in at least they are away from the boat or propellers. I would check with your vet and do some research on what you feel you’re more comfortable with. I also think that the leash should be attached to the boat not in your hand- that is personal preference based off my experience. 

 

 

Links: 

https://www.chewy.com/petcentral/basic-boat-safety-tips-for-dogs/

https://www.sailmagazine.com/cruising/dog-boating-safety-tips

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/article-library/safety-tips/boating-with-your-pet

 

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REAL TALK – Your Friends Aren’t Into Your Dog

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It can be tough to have a dog and a social life. It can be even tougher when a friend isn't a dog person or struggles to understand your need to buy 1000 bandanas for your dog and make sure it only eats my ollie out of the fridge. There is NOTHING wrong with being a little pooch obsessed. People are obsessed with shoes, their children, home decor, watermelon, and exercise so who cares! Erin Marquez submitted a piece on how to find balance as a dog mom when you're friends aren't as obsessed with your dog as you are! Read below! 

 Submission by Erin Marquez - Mom of @zaratheminidoodle

Hi, hello, hey you! Does a (large) portion of your paycheck go toward making sure your fur baby has the tastiest, high-quality food? This season’s latest and greatest toys? A fancy little bandana or bowtie for every day of the week? Does your dog have their own Insta, with more followers than you do on your personal account? Do you alter your daily schedule to make sure they are happy, exhausted, and feel included? Cool, me too! Welcome to the “I’m obsessed with my dog” club, population: 99.9% of dog parents.

This is a great club to be a part of until it’s not, and it’s definitely not when your friends, family, and/or acquaintances aren’t as enthusiastic about your pup as you are. This could be for a variety of reasons: maybe they’re allergic; maybe they think dogs are perpetually dirty; maybe they just don’t like animals. The easy solution to this issue is to say “you don’t like my dog, I don’t like you” – but life isn’t easy. Human relationships are complicated, and as much as you might want to ignore or cut someone out for not liking your dog, it likely won’t be that simple. 

Having dealt with this issue on a few different occasions here are my tips for handling it like pro, if and/or when it happens to you: 

1. Recognize it.When my husband and I finally decided we were ready to bring our little pup home, we quickly realized not everyone in our life was as excited as we were. I find it common that a lot of pet parents are blind to this, which I can 110% understand – I mean, how can anyone NOT love a five pound ball of fluff with a pink little belly and poor balance?As hard as it may be to take a step back, I would urge to you pay close attention to a person’s mood, body language, and verbal cues when you bring your dog around and/or talk about them. Does the person seem disinterested? Annoyed? Maybe they try to change the subject all together or disengage? These are obvious signs that someone isn’t into your dog. If you can recognize this, you’re on the right track.

2.    Accept it.It’s taken me a long time to be ok with the fact that not everyone is going to like my dog. I might not be able to relate to or understand it completely, but I can radically accept it, and you can, too!It’s similar with humans: not everyone is going to like you and you’re probably not going to like everyone. This doesn’t diminish your value or worth. Sometimes you just don’t mesh – there’s no click or spark; you have nothingin common. I hope by this point in your life, you’ve realized it’s not the end of the world if you’re not liked by everyone you meet, and I promise it won’t be if someone doesn’t like your dog, either. 

3. Respect it.If you can accept it, you can, and should, respect it. If you know your friends or family aren’t quite on board with your dog, give them a break from him. I’m the first to admit I want to do everythingwith my dog, but I can also admit that I enjoy having a meal without having to share it or having a conversation with someone without worrying if my pup needs to go potty.Always be sure to ask before you assume your dog is invited to something, and try not to take offense when they’re not. Being a respectful dog owner makes you a good dog owner, and may even be the reason your dog-neutral or dog-disliking friends and family start to (eventually, hopefully) warm up to your pooch.

Bringing home a puppy can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you do. Your dog can quickly become the center of your world and teach you a lot about yourself and others. The simple, albeit harsh, truth is that no matter how much you love your fur baby, not everyone is going to. Recognize it, accept it, and respect it. In the end, it just means more puppy snugs and kisses for you, right?