Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring into Exercise!

Just a few days until spring, according to the calendar. We've already turned our clocks ahead, so the evening light lasts longer. Many of us look forward to longer, warmer days, greening grass, and blooming flowers. As the days lengthen and the temperatures moderate, we can help our dogs and ourselves be more healthy by getting outdoors and exercising.

Exercise Benefits People and Pets
Exercise is important for our dog’s health as it is for our own, and living with a dog can help us be more diligent in our daily exercise. Many dogs, especially those of the herding and hunting breeds, need activity to keep them not only physically healthy, but also from becoming bored. Without activity, a dog can become destructive, chewing on furniture or digging up the yard or carpet. Depending upon the type and personality of your dog, a romp in the park, a few throws of the ball, a couple of chases of the Frisbee, or even a meandering around the neighborhood all add up to a healthier, happier dog. Some dogs, like the toys breeds, don’t need lots of activity; a simple walk around the block will suffice. Whether it's an hour or two of playing fetch or a short jaunt around the neighborhood, exercise adds up to a more enjoyable day for your pooch – and for yourself!

Get Out and Smell the Roses!
Fresh air, sunshine, fragrances of tulips and daffodils, birds singing – the great outdoors is calling to us and our dogs this spring! Allow your furry friend some extra time in your fenced backyard to drink in the sights, smells, and feelings of the new season. Spend time out in that yard with your dog, enjoying your pet’s company and tossing a toy around for amusement.

Walk your dog in the park or around your neighborhood. Walking is great exercise for both human and animal, and partaking of spring’s flavorful sights and sounds stimulates the mind as well as the muscles in both you and your dog. A simple stroll or a long, leisurely walk benefits your physical and emotional health – and your dog’s as well.

Types of Exercise
Perhaps running is more your sport. Many dogs, such as labs and border collies, also benefit from a jog or run. These types of dogs need more active exercise than a short walk around the block, and the companionship you’ll share on such an outing with your dog helps cement the dog-human bond. Hook your pet’s leash to your waist and head on out there!

And, when those spring snows return, hike out to the ski trail, the city park, or an open field and spend time in the white powder, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing... or simply “hiking” in the snow! Throw a few snowballs for your pooch (but not AT him!), enjoy some fresh air and laughter... have some fun together despite the wintry weather!

Cabin fever strikes us all in the waning hours of winter; the coming of the new season of spring helps alleviate some of that by providing extra daylight, extra sunshine, and extra-stimulating fragrances. So, get outdoors with your dog and help bring in the new season of spring outdoors with your pet – you’ll both feel better for it!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Share the Love - Adopt!

My husband and I recently adopted a new dog. It’s been nearly a year since Sage died, and we’ve felt the tugging for a few months, prompting us to consider bringing another dog into our home. However, we still have Cody, and two cats also call our house ‘home’, therefore, we had to be quite selective as to the personality and age of a new dog. Mary, a half-springer/half-cocker, fit the bill: older, spayed female, raised with cats, calm, attentive and trained, and therapy-pet trained to boot! She and Cody bonded almost instantly, and one of our cats is now also a friend (the other continues to allude and hide, but that flightiness is just part of her temperament). Mary’s former owned died suddenly, and the family needed to find a new home for her, so they turned to a rescue organization for assistance in re-homing her.

Adoption Requires Adaption

Adoption can be turmoil for all involved. I think of the drastic changes in Mary's life, from a loving home of nearly six years, to a foster home to our home. How confusing that must be for a dog! Yet, dogs are resilient, and as along as they are given love, encouragement, attention and acceptance, they do adjust. Just as Sage adapted to her new home and her situation of becoming blind, so Mary is adjusting to a new life with us. Soon, she and I will begin therapy training, becoming partners in helping others, just as she and her former owner did, providing even greater stability and certainty in her life.


Our lives, too, need to adjust. Although there are similarities between Mary and Sage because of the Springer breed, Mary is sighted; and many times when she sees something (person, cat, dog) out the front window, she barks. And, though Cody can also see, he is elderly (nearly 15!) and can no longer jump up on the furniture to look out the window – therefore, his barking is not as frequent. And, being younger than Cody, Mary has more energy – she needs more frequent and longer walks as well as more time in the backyard. We are all adjusting and learning.

Despite the changes, there is greater joy and comfort in our home. Mary loves to snuggle in bed and cuddle on the couch. She lays beside my feet while I'm in my sunroom office and next to my husband's desk in his home office. She has come to trust us, accept us, and bask in the companionship of us and our other pets.


Not all homeless pets are as fortunate. Statistics indicate nearly 7 million dogs and cats are turned over to shelters and rescues every year; almost half are euthanized. Yet, millions of people in America are pet owners and spend billions of dollars each year on pet food, supplies, and goodies, including clothing. People love pets!

Share Warmth, Share Love – Adopt!

As spring casts its warmth upon the land, may we who love dogs and cats share the warmth of love with animals in need. Adoption is a beautiful thing, and opening one's heart and home to a pet who needs that love and warmth helps to save lives. Perhaps your heart, like mine, is being tugged to again love a pet... share that love – Adopt! Visit your local shelter or rescue organization or stop by – your new furry friend just might be a short distance or a click away -- ours was!