Crispy Field at Golden Hour

Leaping Leo

They say the best camera is the one that’s in your hand. The above picture was taken close to sunset at one of our off-leash areas. All I had with me was my phone, and yes, I’ll admit to using the “clarity” filter (love that filter). I’m also tempted to photoshop Leo’s ball blue so it stands out more.

I took my DSLR on our next visit and took the following. I’m working with a new lens, which might not be the best for capturing running dogs. I don’t think the pictures turned out as well.

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I love all my dogs equally

Mia fountain
Looking at my Instagram feed last week, I realized with shame that it had been a while since I posted a picture of Leo. It’s not that Mia is more beautiful or more photogenic than Leo, just that Rob had been taking Mia to work a lot. He takes her on long walks during his lunch and practices with his new cameras, and therefore we wind up with lots of beautiful pictures of her.

That night I took a few phone pics of Leo at the Bad Dog Park, which was strangely empty. Everyone must have defected to the new Best Dog Park, so I’ll take the kids there tonight. Here he is, actually lying down at the park because there was no one else to play with.

Bad Dog Park

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Blame it on the pit bull


Just kidding. Don’t blame Gracie. It’s not her fault!

Gracie is a total wiggle butt/snuggle bug available at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley. At least she was the last time I was there, which was May 22 … !

What happened to me there, and the reason I haven’t been back yet is not her fault, but because of her breed, even though she’s a very petite pittie, the news media is bound to sensationalize it and place the blame on her.

All right. Here it is. I fell down.

Somebody that I told my story to, before I even told him how I got hurt, before he knew it happened while walking a dog, asked “Did your dog pull you down?”

Seriously, I swear. No.

I was walking Gracie between a fenced play yard and a berm. The ground was uneven; I think I was walking on fist-sized gravel. Smooth rocks. I’ve walked Gracie before and she is flawless on leash. A larger dog was in the yard, one I haven’t walked because his sign says he’s not available because he’s “working on his manners.” He raced toward the fence and I thought very calmly, What a great opportunity to see if Gracie is at all reactive to other dogs.

And then I went down. It is a testament to both dogs that I don’t even remember what they did. I’m pretty sure Gracie just stood there attached to me via leash. The other dog didn’t even bark.

I had simply tripped over my own feet, and when I landed on my left shoulder, the wind was knocked out of me.

That’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot – “wind knocked out” – and now I understand what it means. I couldn’t breathe. Specifically, I felt like I couldn’t get air out. I also sprained my right thumb.

My thoughts at the moment: I’m hurt. I’m hurt. No… I seem to be okay. Nothing broken. No scrapes. No one saw; thank god! So embarrassing.

So I kept on walking Gracie. Then I walked two more dogs. My thumb hurt quite a bit, but that seemed to be the worst of my injuries.

Until I woke the next morning with pain on the side of my chest. I googled “bruised ribs,” and yep that’s what it was. Even if they were cracked, the Internet says the treatment is the same: ice, rest, drugs. Six weeks to heal.

That was almost four weeks ago. I’ve mostly been functional when upright, as long as I don’t overexert myself. Walking is fine. Getting up from a lying position is hard. Sneezing was excruciating, but that has improved. I was able to do my part to separate two fighting dogs (ours).

I did wind up seeking medical help a week and a half ago when I had sharp chest pains and was short of breath. Thought I was having a heart attack, maybe a Vicodin overdose? Nope, just strain in the interstitial cartilage or something. A house call from paramedics and four hours in the ER later, I was disappointed they didn’t see any fractures in my X-rays.

So that’s my deal. I hope to be better and back to walking shelter dogs in a couple of weeks. And though I’d love to see her again, I hope Gracie’s not still there when I go back.

Heart Like a Dog

Since my injury, I have neglected not only blog posting, but blog hopping. I’m getting back up on the horse right now with the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog

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How to break up a dog fight

This happened during Positive Pet Training week when the theme was multiple dogs, but sadly I didn’t have a chance to write it up in time.

Not fighting

Playing. Not fighting

Mia and Leo hadn’t been in a nasty fight in almost two years, and generally are the bestest of buddies. Most of the time, I feed them sort of separately. Leo gets his food in his crate (The Bug Hut) and Mia gets hers in her condo or the kitchen.

When I give them Raw Meaty Bones inside the house, Leo runs from room to room looking for a place to hide it before settling down beside Mia to eat it.


Often, they sit back to back while eating their bones. Adorable.

The other week though, something happened. I don’t remember the moments before, but suddenly they were fighting.

I’m certain that Leo left his bone too close to Mia, and then when he went back for it, she snarled at him. With most toys or lower value items, Leo shrugs it off, but here, he didn’t back down, and that’s how they ended up fighting. Snarling and snapping at each other’s faces.

In that first moment, I started shouting, “Hey! Knock it off!” Because that’s what they tell you to do, right? Make a loud noise to shake them out of it? (We’ve used an air horn in the past. Didn’t work either.) But this is counter to what I believe about dog behavior. I don’t scold or yell “No!” to stop my dogs from barking and lunging inappropriately, because shouting begets more shouting.

I grabbed Leo’s hips and pulled back. Rob rushed in from the other room with a broom in hand. He thought he might use the handle to separate them, but instead, he grabbed Mia’s hips and pulled her back. Even though we were in a smaller space (in front of the TV) than we were the last time they fought (over a live rabbit, on the back patio), we succeeded in separating them.

(We had a hard time with that last one. Since then, I’ve been advised to “wheelbarrow” fighting dogs by lifting their hips while pulling back, so their back legs are off the ground. We didn’t have room to do that this time, but luckily we didn’t have to.)

No one was injured.

Even after they were separated, Leo continued to bark at Mia, and Rob said it was scary to see him so checked out (that’s called hindbrain).

After my initial, failed attempt at shouting a distraction, I started saying, “Shhh. Shhh.” I repeated this while putting Leo in his hut and Mia in the back yard.

Then I walked them separately, and when they reunited, they were buds again.

I don’t know if “Shh” is necessarily a better way to break up a fight than “Hey!” but it kept me calm, so maybe it soothed the dogs too.

Our hearts were pounding afterward, but I felt quite pleased with ourselves. This was a welcome change; usually I beat myself up about my failure as a dog parent. This time, Rob and I congratulated ourselves on how well we handled the fight.

But sadly, this means I won’t get to watch them eat Raw Meaty Bones side by side for a while.

How about you, readers? What was the worst dog fight you’ve had to break up? Do you have any field-tested techniques?

Hark! There is a blog hop I can join with this post: June is Multiple Pet Mania Month hosted by Cascadian Nomads, My GBGV Life and Wag’n’Woof Pets and sponsored by K9 Bytes, Merrick and The Umbilical Belt. The entire month is all about life with multiple pets culminating with the first annual Multiple Pet Day on June 30th. If you have or have ever had more than one pet, please take the Life With Multiple Pets Survey. We will be sharing the results on Multiple Pet Day. That is also the day we will announce the winner of our #MultiPetDay photo contest. Anyone can join in the photo contest or multiple pet mania month fun. Check out the posts below, comment, share and follow #MultiPetMania. If you are a blogger with more than one pet, please link up a post about multiple pet life below. Any and all things about living with and loving multiple pets are welcome!


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Purple Flowers Mia Majesty

Rob made this photo of Mia last week at work. I love it so much that we need to make a companion one of Leo and then mural an entire wall with it.

We celebrated Mia’s birthday last week. We brought her home four years ago June 4. Who knows how old she really is, but she brings magic into our lives every day.

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The power of a photo

This post is going to be even less Wordless than usual, but it speaks to the power of a single photo.

This one:

Lovely Linda

Since I started volunteering at an animal shelter, I’ve deliberately not plastered “sad dog” photos all over Facebook. I take dogs on walks and try to get photos of them with my phone that show how fun it would be to bring them home. I don’t like to see sad pictures in my feed and didn’t think anyone else would either. I also felt like people would get tired of seeing these pictures and either tune them out, unfriend or block me.

Last week, I walked two dogs who had been returned to the shelter after living in homes for months. I passed Linda, the German shepherd above, looking so lonesome. Partial as I am to shepherds, I went into her kennel to say hello. She wouldn’t even let me pet her. I sat in the corner hoping she would come over to me. She didn’t, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone.

Later, I posted the picture of one of the returned dogs and almost didn’t post the one of Linda, because it violates my self-imposed rule: Happy dogs only!

But she just broke my heart. She had been surrendered by her owner, who got her as a puppy from a friend, because he was moving and couldn’t take her. She’s only 10 months old.

Of course I don’t know the whole story, and life is unpredictable … but people should not get dogs when they don’t know where they’re going to be in 10 months. The explanation sounds so casual, too. “Got her from a friend.” Who knows? Maybe his friend is the world’s most reputable breeder, but it’s unconscionable for a purebred German shepherd puppy to wind up in a shelter. Any purebred puppy really. If we’re making these dogs on purpose, let’s ensure they have homes to live in.

Plus, she’d already had at least one bad experience, so she is afraid of other dogs, the surrendering party reported. Poorly socialized and now isolated in a kennel.

I posted the picture because I knew someone would want a young shepherd like her.

I was right. The photo came as close as anything I’ve ever posted to “going viral.” I shared with a local German shepherd rescue, the Humane Society reposted it, and a writer for wrote about it. Hundreds of people shared and commented and wanted to adopt Linda. People in Montana and New York asked if she could be transported. (No, but did it occur to you to contact your local animal shelter? They have dogs.)

The shelter got so much interest they had to stop taking applications. They selected a wonderful home for Linda.

What’s the message here? I’ve been posting pictures for a year and this is the first time this has happened. Do people just like German shepherds better than other breeds? Is it because she’s young? Or because the photo tugged on people’s heartstrings?

I think it’s a combination. Being a purebred puppy helped Linda’s case, and the sadness of the photo spoke to people. I was reminded of hearing Joanne McGonagle of The Tiniest Tiger speak at last year’s BarkWorld:

Putting a Face on Your Message: This session discusses the power of one face and how a single image will make your message stick with your readers. You will gain an understanding of psychic numbing and how to avoid turning off your readers when discussing everything from animal adoption to pressing animal welfare issues. You will learn why focusing on positive results and giving a message of hope is important if you want to touch the heart of your reader and motivate them to take action. 

I got that: Psychic Numbing. If I’d posted sad photos of every dog at the shelter, you might have missed Linda. If I’d posted links to every German shepherd rescue in the country, people would think, Oh, there’s too many. We can’t save them all. 

The last part of the blurb is what had me confused. I held back from posting sad pictures because I didn’t want to turn off my audience. But maybe when there’s just one sad dog, people can hold onto hope. If we can find a home for that one sad dog, the problem is not insurmountable.

The next day, Linda had a flood of visitors, and although I wasn’t there, here she is after being plied with hot dogs.

Visiting day

And here’s Abby, a small chocolate lab mix who was brought back to the shelter after several months. Through no fault of her own, she was placed in the wrong home for her. She’s a little reactive to other dogs on leash, but absolutely wonderful to walk, knows what to do with a tennis ball, gives nice kisses, and has a behaviorist’s seal of approval. She deserves another chance.


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Lucky and Ty find families

Two of my long-suffering buddies at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley have been adopted! Lucky, as in L is for Lucky, and Ty, seen here in this photo by Tracey Salazar.


Tracey Salazar Photography

Salazar and another photographer, Lara Grauer, are working with The Dugan Foundation and Pawsitive Alliance to spread the word about dogs who keep getting overlooked in shelters. Both Lucky and Ty were featured recently, and both were adopted within days!

Lucky and Ty also were both sponsored in a newspaper ad that ran after the Humane Society’s Black Cat Auction. At the fundraiser, there were keychains with pictures of all the adoptable dogs and cats for sponsors to choose from. I was torn between Lucky and Ty, and almost went with Lucky, because of his disadvantage as a pit bull type dog, but then I overheard a man say he was looking especially for a pit bull to sponsor, so I handed him Lucky’s keychain and sponsored Ty myself.

2015-04-18 19.29.08

What this tells me is that exposure gets dogs adopted. And great photos are essential. However Ty and Lucky’s new families came to find them … WHOO-HOO!!

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