Cheat Grass & All its Evil

Weeds are plants that people find undesirable in a particular location. Cheatgrass is a weed I find undesirable in any location! It’s invasive, grows like bamboo, spreads fires, and can injure you and your pets!

Cheatgrass Seeds

Cheatgrass was brought to North America by European settlers. It’s now found in almost every state, covering about 70 million acres of land, but is most prevalent in the Great Basin areas like Oregon. And although it hasn’t gone away over the last two unseasonably warm years, it normally grows at the beginning of spring and dies away in the winter.

Cheatgrass takes resources away from native plants, aids in the rapid spread of fires, and reeks havoc on wildlife. Why should you care about any of this? Because Cheatgrass can get into your pets systems and literally rip them apart from the inside out! It grows among regular grass, and can easily be ingested by your pup or cat. The seeds are small and lightweight, so if an animal rubs against them ever so slightly, it could send seeds into their eyes, ears, and respiratory systems. Seeds scattered on the ground can get trapped in paw pads and work their way between toes. If left unnoticed, these seeds will twist, spin, and wiggle their way further into an animal, resulting in open sores, infections, organ damage, and even death.

What can you do to avoid this? Keep your yard free of Cheat to limit exposure. Keep your pup on leash when in areas with high levels of Cheatgrass. Keep cats indoors if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of Cheat. Perfect recall and the “leave it” cue to keep them from munching on this horrible weed. Keep coats short, and keep fur between toes even shorter. Check your pet over after every outing, and then recheck them again several hours later. Having another set of eyes is always helpful.

Cheatgrass

I recommend checking over every inch of your pet, especially if they have long, thick, or curly coats. Doodles are the ultimate prey to Cheat. Get a good Furminator that works well in your pets coat, and then check their ears, eyes, nose, mouth (including back of throat), under the collar/harness, between toes, within the paw pad, and near genitals. Keeping coats short will help keep the Cheat off, and wearing boots and goggles will help keep the eyes and feet clean. If you see any Cheatgrass on your pet that you cannot remove, call your vet immediately. I know a lot of people reading this will be like, “A seed?! Yea right, big deal!” But after spending at least $800 on an emergency Cheatgrass removal you will definitely be singing a different tune.

Cheatgrass loves hot, dry environments, so going into the shady, wet woods is always a less risky option when it comes to Cheat. Keep an eye out for Cheatgrass and call your pup away from it before they get in too deep, and keep them on leash in areas where it’s unavoidable. Become familiar with this evil weed, and take note when you find areas without it.

Hot Weather is Here!

It’s suddenly so hot out! Phew! So here are some tips on how to stay safe & cool…

Safety

  • Always have fresh water with you to offer your pup. A to-go bottle and a collapsible water bowl are always a good idea, or you could get a bottle with a bowl attached– super posh!
  • Check the surfaces you are walking on. Put the back of your hand to the ground and leave it there for five seconds. Grass is the coolest surface, and shade is always welcome!
  • Watch your pup for overheating or signs of labored breathing. Offer them shade and cool water. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
  • Never leave your pup in the car on hot days. Shade with the windows down is nice for a few minutes, but even that can get over 100 on a hot day. I love this video Grounds & Hounds did on how miserable & dangerous being in a hot car is!
PetPlan Insurance car temperature chart

Water Fun

Link enjoying a Chuck-it Bumper
  • Swimming is obviously a fun water activity, but not every pup enjoys the water. Using toys in the shallows will get them comfortable around water and getting their paw pads into cool water will help them cool down. Kiddie pools are great for those that don’t want to swim!
  • Sprinklers and misters are fun ways to cool down if your dog is willing. A mister is a little easier to get acquainted with, sprinklers might take some positive reinforcement and some water play on your part!
  • Toys that you can fill and freeze are refreshing for hot days, and having some on hand will save you when it’s too hot to go outside for enrichment!

Stay Cool Inside & Out

  • Have your pup wear a wet bandana, shirt, or cooling vest to keep them cool on walks. Shirts and vest also help those who get sunburned!
  • Get a cooling mat they can lay on. It might take some conditioning to get your pup used to laying on the mat, but once they do it’ll keep them cool!
  • Keep up on grooming and be sure to brush out those hot undercoats. Remember, not every dog’s coat is meant to be shaved, so consult a professional if you want to take off some of that fluff. Weekly brushings are usually enough to keep the extra weight off!
  • Have fun mixing up some frozen treats for your pup! You blend up any of their favorite fruits, veggies, or proteins and pour into an ice cube tray to make some pupsicles!
Link on his cooling mat

Wildlife Education: Larger Mammals

Spring is around the corner, which means life is going to start blooming! Insects will begin stirring, rabbits will multiply, deer will migrate, and everyone is going to be rising from their dwellings to enjoy all the sunshine has to offer! Stay alert and make sure not to miss any of the emerging beauty or dangers. Here are some larger animals that tend to wander in the spring months.

Coyotes- Coyotes are common to see nearly everywhere in Central Oregon. They are around the size of a medium-sized dog and are often gray or brown in color. They do not seek confrontation and will normally run away when they see you, but if they have a litter nearby they will stand their ground. If you see one and it doesn’t automatically run from you, make a lot of noise to scare them off and get the attention of your pup, put your pup on leash and walk the opposite direction. They normally travel in packs, so if you enter their territory and they confront you, it’s safest to just leave.

AP Stock Photo of a Coyote

Wolves- Wolves are larger than coyotes, and usually larger than the largest dogs. Wolves are seen throughout Oregon but it is uncommon to run into them on the trail. If you see a wolf on the trail it is safe to assume it will attack you so make yourself big and back away slowly. Do not run, and do not make any sudden movements. Hopefully you notice them from a distance and can get your dog back to you and back to safety.

Stock Photo of a Grey Wolf

Cougars- Cougars are one of the largest cats in the western Hemisphere. They are a reddish-brown color and have powerful teeth and jaws. They have been spotted all over Central Oregon and have been known to attack humans and pets. Cougars usually roam in search of food, and unfortunately your dog is a perfect meal. If you see one on the trail, put yourself between your dog and the cougar, make yourself big, wave your arms, keep eye contact, and back away slowly while speaking in a firm tone.

Stock Photo of a Cougar

Deer- There are several species of deer in Oregon, the Mule Deer and Black-Tailed Deer are the most common. Deer will do their best to stay as far away from you and your pup as possible, but we do sometimes sneak up on them, and they will defend themselves if threatened. Dogs have been known to chase deer, and the deers respond by kicking with their rear hooves or rearing up and boxing, using their front legs to keep danger away. Male deer will also use their antlers as defense. Deer are more than capable of skinning a dog, breaking their bones, and sometimes killing them. If you see deer, make a lot of noise to warn them that you are near and to get your pup’s attention on you. Leash them up until the and move away from the deer. Their scent will linger so don’t unleash your dog too soon.

Stock Photo of Mule Deer

Elk- Elk are found throughout Oregon. They are larger than deer, less common to run into, and more dangerous. They have large, powerful bodies and males have long, pointed antlers. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened. If you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of an Elk

Moose- Moose are even more rare to run into in Oregon. They are huge, around 6” tall and can weigh up to 1500 lbs. Their antlers are used as threat displays, but can kill a human or pup. Again, if you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of a Moose

We share the trails with a lot of other living creatures, so be cautious and courteous. Make sure your pup is fluent in the important cues such as recall, and leave it. It’s important that your pup know to remain close to you and focused on you in dangerous situations. If they haven’t learned these cues, or haven’t built a reliable recall, keep them on leash when you’re out on the trail. A 20ft lead will ensure they are able to sniff and explore, and it will keep them close when things get too wild.

Wildlife Education: Creepy Crawlers

When you’re out on the trail with your Pup there are a plethora of animals out there. Some are harmless, some are scared, and some are more than willing to stand their ground and defend their territory. Having some knowledge about the various animals out there will help you be prepared for when you and your Pup meet one on the trail. Let’s explore some Central Oregon wild animals together, starting with the smallest.

Fleas– Have you heard of the Central Oregon flea rumor? Someone is going around telling everyone that fleas don’t exist in Central Oregon! It’s blasphemy! Though fleas are uncommon in Central Oregon, they definitely exist. The High Desert is too cold and dry for fleas to thrive, but they live happily in rodent burrows and deer beds. They are normally only around during the warmer months, from spring through summer. Flea bites can cause a lot of grief, irritation, and pain. Keep your pups up to date on flea meds to keep them (and your entire world) protected. If you find fleas on your pup you’ll have to immediately give them a medicated flea bath and clean everything in your home.

Stock photo of fleas in dog fur

Thatching AntsThatching ants are somethin’ fierce. They have black thoraxes, red heads, and very angry faces. They got their name by creating their home in giant mounds made of mostly pine needles, sticks, and debris. You can see the mounds moving with ants. Each nest could contain literally millions of these ants. The threat of these ants is their bite! Human or dog, these ants will latch on and bite you! And those bites are lasting. They burn and sting and itch for hours after. It’s easy to avoid their mounds, but they have exit holes everywhere so ants swarm in a wide radius of their nests. Wearing high socks will help you, but your Pups are more exposed. If you notice them fussing with their feet or legs give them a once over and remove any ants you see. Tweezers work best, but you can also wrap up your hand in a cloth or poop bag and pluck those suckers out!

Stock photo of thatching ants

Ticks– There are about 20 different species of ticks in Oregon. Four of them are more common than others: the western Black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick), the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American Dog tick, and the Brown Dog tick. The western black-legged tick is the only species known to carry Lyme disease in Oregon, but there are other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Ticks often bite and burrow without the host even knowing. Many people who end up with a tick related disease had no idea they’d even been bit. Some ticks are smaller than a poppy seed, and they hang around in your hair or other areas you wouldn’t think to check after a trip outside. They’re sneaky, and very good at what they do. Ticks love hanging out on the tips of tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to brush through the grass. They latch onto their host and don’t let go. They have tiny hooks in their mouths that they use to burrow into skin. If you find one on your pup you can remove them with tweezers. Place the tip of the tweezers as close to the skin as possible, do your best to pinch the tick by the head and pull it straight out, slowly. If you are not comfortable or confident removing a tick take them into the vet asap. Check your dogs after every outing, and keep them up to date on tick medication to keep them safe and healthy.

Stock photo of a tick burrowing into skin

Spiders– Spiders are everywhere, and pups are constantly getting into their business. The three types of spiders to look out for are Black Widows, Hobos, and Yellow Sac spiders. The most common, and most dangerous venomous spider is a Black Widow. Females are the ones to look out for, as most males are rarely seen and are often eaten by their mates. They are black and sport a red hourglass on the bottom side of their abdomen. Their bite can cause muscle pain, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Hobo spiders are also something to look out for. They are reddish brown and often have stripes across the tops of their bodies. Their bites can cause necrosis, headaches, and vision impairment. And lastly, Yellow Sac spiders have a bite similar to the Brown Recluse. They are not quite yellow, and are more of a brownish tan color. Their bites are not as serious as the Black Widow or Hobo, but can cause swelling, redness, and a stinging sensation. These three spiders can be found anywhere. In homes, in yards, in the desert, and in the woods. They don’t bite humans very often, but will bite a dog if they are startled or feel threatened. Pups will often show signs of a bite within an hour. Most bites occur on their faces and will begin to swell. You most likely will not know that your pup encountered a spider, but if you see swelling or redness occur take them to the vet right away.

Stock photo of a pup with a swollen face

Stay tuned for our next Wilderness Education post about Small Animals such as squirrels, porcupines, badgers, etc.

Winter Preparedness

Our favorite time of the year is coming! Time to roll in the snow, play catch with snowballs, and plow through powder! Below you will find some tips on how to keep your Pup safe & some suggestions on how to have fun in the cold!

Safety First

Be sure to play in areas that you are familiar with! The snow can hide secret dangers such as sticks, rocks, pipes, etc. Make sure your pup isn’t leaping and bounding in areas that could contain these sharp items, and instead play in areas that you know well.

Keep snowballs from accumulating in your Pup’s fluff! Boots, jackets, gaiters are all great options for keeping your Pup’s fur free of snow and ice clumps. Be sure to get them comfortable wearing these items before big outings. Fresh haircuts are also helpful in keeping snowballs at bay. Keeping leg & foot fluff closely trimmed will do wonders. Snow & ice clumps can cause painful knots and dreadlocks. If you get snow clumps, coconut oil & Musher’s Secret are very helpful.

Don’t eat any snow! Snow can carry bacteria and parasites, and most snow salts are unsafe for digestion, so though it may look like a lot of fun, try not to let your Pup eat snow.

Swimming season is over! When outdoor temps drop below 45, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid swimming. Especially if you’re far from a warm, dry place. Dogs can get hypothermia too.

Snow clumps can be a nuisance for fluffy Pups

Fun & Games

Nosework is an awesome game to play in the snow! The snow makes it more difficult to pick up scents, so placing items/toys/treats in the snow can be quite the brain game. Pieces of cheese work great!

Snow mazes are fun for everyone! Dig out a snow maze in your yard or a nearby park and have your Pup run through. You can combine mazes with nosework for even more fun.

Sink a ball in the snow! Toss a ball into the snow so it sinks a bit and have your Pup jump in after it. Make sure you do this in an area that you know doesn’t contain hidden dangers.

Skijoring is a great bonding & physical exercise! It literally connects you and your dog and gets you both outside, working out your bodies and your minds.

Bonding & Exercise! (photo from akc.org)

Sometimes Home is Best

There are a lot of outdoor winter activities your dog is not interested in. Use your best judgement when deciding on bringing your Pup along. You know them best, after all.

Sitting outdoors at local watering holes or restaurants. Even with a coat on, your Pup can get very wet & cold sitting outdoors watching you and your human friends sip on beer. And it’s not always as fun for them as it is for you.

Shreddin’ Mt Bachelor is for humans. Bringing your Pup along to wait in the car is not fun or comfortable. A warm couch is a better option for them. If you can’t leave them alone in your hotel, look into some dog care options 🙂

Places to Get Outdoor Gear

Ruffwear is local AND they make excellent products!

Hundr is a company in the UK that takes old human outdoor clothing and recycles it into new, fashionable dog gear!

Backcountry has a lot of different brands under one roof… roof, roof! Woah sorry I got carried away.

Curing Boredom for You & Your Pup

Oregon is on fire. So is California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Which means there is a whole lotta smoke covering most of our country. A lot of us our stuck indoors, and a lot of our Pups are stuck indoors too. So I thought I would share a fun dog craft with everyone!

snuffle mat

This is a Snuffle Mat. I know it just looks like a mess of fabric, but trust me, it’s actually a pretty fun game. It’s used for easy nosework and offers great mental stimulation for your housebound Pup. They are mass produced, come in a variety of styles, and sell for about $40+ in stores. But the good news is you can spend about $5 and make one yourself! It helps cure hours of boredom for you, feels great to make your Pup something they love, and helps your Pup work out his brain while stuck inside!

They are super easy to make, but I’m not going to lie, they take A LOT of time! If you’d like me to make you one, please shoot me an email! I make them and sell them for $20 and all profits go to the Oregon Humane Society!

Supplies:

  1. Scissors
  2. Plastic Sink Mat (pictured below, you can find these for about $4 at ACE)
  3. Felt or any super soft fabric, remember your Pup is going to be shoving his snout into this! The softer the better! (Thrift stores are excellent places to find super cheap felt/fabric! You can also recycle some unwanted clothes!)
  4. Patience & maybe a good show to binge
plastic sink mat

Steps:

  1. Begin cutting felt into strips, about 1″ wide and about 5-7″ long. They don’t have to be exact, having them vary in dimensions will spice things up on your finished mat 🙂
cut strips of felt/fabric

2. Begin by inserting one strip of felt through two neighboring holes in the sink mat, then tie it off. Continue looping the felt strips through holes and tying them.

loop felt through holes in sink mat and tie them off

3. Continue tying the felt to the plastic mat until every hole, and every direction has fabric through it.

tie felt through every hole, in every direction. this photo is of the bottom of the mat, so you can see how it should look.

That’s it! You’ve made a Snuffle Mat! Now break up some treats and nestle them into the felt “fingers” and let your dog go to work! If you’re really bored you can make several of these and place them around the house full of treats! That way your Pup can get a little extra brain work in!

you can see how thick the felt becomes when you’re finished, and the challenge it will present your Pup. we like using soft treats that are easy to break apart & tough to fish out.

* There are a lot of tutorials online if you need some video guidance

Dogs & Wildfires

The entire West Coast is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes and have had to evacuate. Areas not on fire are consumed by thick smoke. Oregon is under a state of emergency. Air quality in Central Oregon is horrendous and people have been advised to stay indoors. But what do the fires and smoke mean for your Adventure loving Pup?! And what about all your other pets and livestock that have to stay outdoors?!

photo credit: Noah Berger, Associated Press

As unhealthy as smoke can be to humans, it can also cause serious health problems for nonhuman animals. Smoke from wildfires affects pets, horses, livestock and wildlife. If you can see or feel the effects of smoke yourself, you should take precautions to keep your pets and livestock safe.

Look for the following signs of possible smoke irritation. If any of your animals are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian:

  • Coughing/gagging
  • Difficulty breathing; panting, wheezing, gasping
  • Eye irritation
  • Excessively drinking water
  • Reduced appetite and/or thirst
  • Inflammation of throat or mouth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fatigue/weakness/lethargy
  • Disorientation or stumbling

Tips to protect pets & livestock

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke is present
  • Brief outdoor bathroom breaks
  • Avoid outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality.
  • Have a pet evacuation kit ready, include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning. (see below for kit info)
  • Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t require animals to perform activities that cause labored breathing.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
  • Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and misting the livestock area.
  • Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. Coordinate with neighbors/friends if you don’t have enough trailers.
  • Remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around livestock structures.
  • Give livestock 4-6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing.

The fires have been spreading quickly and many people are awaiting evacuation orders. If you have not prepared for emergency evacuation, and are looking for some guidance on how to do so, The American Veterinary Medical Association has everything laid out in a downloadable booklet entitled “Saving the Whole Family”.

If you and your Pup don’t have the option to stay indoors, there are air filtering masks for dogs that can help them breathe and stay healthy.

2020 has been challenging… but we can make it through! Be prepared, be thoughtful, and be safe!

Shelter-in-Place Doesn’t Have to be a Snooze

Being stuck indoors is rarely fun, especially when your inner Adventurer starts screaming to get out! Here are some ways to avoid becoming a couch potato and to help keep you and your furry sidekicks happy and entertained while you Shelter-in-Place!

IMG_2442

  1. Fort Building- Believe it or not most pets love forts! They aren’t that great at helping build them, but that’s the fun part for you! Dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and reptiles can all appreciate a good fort, you just have to tailor it to their personality. A man who called himself Papa Jake has a YouTube channel dedicated to box forts, including some made specifically for nonhuman animals!
    • Have you heard? Boxes are an excellent fort building material! And most animals love playing in them! Dogs are a little clumsy with box forts so you have to be thoughtful during your build, but cats, rodents, reptiles, and birds can handle the most cattywompus of box forts. You can find free boxes on CraigsList or NextDoor!
    • Sheets, blankets, & towels, oh my! Blanket forts are a little easier for larger pups to enjoy, and other animals enjoy the comfort blankets offer. You can build it big enough to include their bed, a comfy spot for you to sit, and your tv or computer for binge watching Animal Planet. If you don’t have enough sheets or towels, you can get creative and use clothes!
  2. Getting Fresh Air- Basically the only thing we’re allowed to do is go outside for a walk. Not only does your dog enjoy this, but all your pets will love getting out! They make leashes & harnesses for basically every shaped animal alive! If you can order pet supplies from a small or local business please do! But you can easily find leashes & harnesses on Amazon.
    • Go for a smell walk! Don’t just stare at your phone and tug your pet along, instead really get into it! Explore smells with your pet! Hold your kitty up to a tall tree so she can smell the otherwise unattainable leaves, and smell them with her! Let your ferret dig through shrubs to explore new scents, and maybe just take a distant whiff! How often do you use your nose? How often do you share sensory experiences with your best friend? Just steer clear of anything they might be rolling in! Yuck!
    • Scavenger Hunt! Take a walk with your fluffy pal and bring some trinkets along. Nothing important to you, could even just be small stones. Get your scent on them, roll the item around in your hands and get em nice and smelly. Then on your walk simply place the totems randomly along your path. On your next walk allow your pet to try to seek these totems out! Keep a score of how many they find! (You can do this activity inside your home as well!)
  3. Hide n Seek- Exactly what it sounds like! Have your pet stay in one spot while you hide, then call them to you so they can seek you out! This game really only works with dogs, and in my experience rats & rabbits. Whenever I have tried playing it with a cat I come back to find them snoozing in the same spot I left them in. And forget about playing with a reptile, they prefer to be the hider not the seeker.
  4. Puzzles- Brain games are a great way to help pets pass the time and exercise their minds! Be careful when playing these games with cats… if they get any smarter they might finally take over the world!
    • Hiding treats around the house is a great way for your pet to use their nose and brains to find them! Have then stay in one spot while you hide the treats in easily accessible areas around the house! Don’t hide treats near irreplaceable family heirlooms! This works with almost all pets!
    • Use household items to create a puzzle game for your pets. Placing tennis balls in a muffin tin easily hides treats and your pet can sniff them out and figure out how to get to them! Imagine a Kong, and then get creative to make your own at home! Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are great makeshift Kongs! Fold up one side of the cardboard roll, plop some treats inside, and then fold the other end! Your pet will have to chew the roll apart to get to the goods inside! You’ll have a mess to clean up, but that’s all part of the game 🙂
  5. Energy Work- Spending quiet time bonding with your pet will greatly benefit both of you! You’re normally so distracted with work, and kids, and friends, and television, and Reddit… why not spend this time slowing your brain down and connecting with your best friend. Maybe now is a good time to master Reiki!
    • Pets, massages, and tTouch are all great ways to quietly sit with your pet, quiet your mind and deepen your bond. You can find different massage techniques and tTouch exercises on the World Wide Web. There’s something offered for every type of animal!
  6. Treat Making- This is a great way to get your kids involved in dog care! And to get them out of your hair for a bit 🙂 I prefer making easier, minimal ingredient treats, like pupsicles! But you can get pretty crazy with your treat making! There is a list on Good Housekeeping that has some more extravagant treats, but if you want to keep it simple just blend some peanut butter, plain yogurt, and bananas and add the mixture to an ice cube tray to freeze overnight!
  7. Try Something New Together- Try anything new with your pet! Anything! Something you’ve never done before, but perhaps have always been curious if your furry best friend would enjoy. My dog rarely plays ball, so one day I decided to try a soccer ball and he was all about it! He now has 3 Chuck-It soccer balls and wants to play every day! When my outdoor cat became an indoor cat, I got her a harness to take her outside for mini trips. She hated it. So much. But after a few outings, she began to enjoy being outside again! She refused to walk on the leash with me, in case one of the neighborhood cats saw, but she enjoyed when I sat in the yard and gave her a long leash so she could safely explore! The new activity you try together could range from reading your pet your favorite book to seeing if your cat enjoys slack-lining. Get into it!

The Retractable Leash

retractable-leashes-dogs-dangerous-1.jpg

Last week I was sitting at my favorite food truck pod with my sweet Pup Link. People came and went with their dogs, sometimes coming over to say hello to my Pup. Each dog calmly came over to get and give a brief sniff and then they trotted away with their human. After about five dogs stopping to say hello, in walks a beefy pitbull. He was large and had a big smile on his face, scanning the area for dogs. He saw Link and immediately began walking toward us. Behind him was a small woman, gripping his retractable leash with both hands and being dragged across the gravel as if she was wearing roller skates. She grasped the handle of the leash and held her thumb tight against the leash lock, her other hand was wrapped up in the thin cord, turning white from the lack of blood flowing to it. She kept shouting, “Stop! Heel! Stop!” but the dog continued to drag her toward me. I stood up and asked, “Does he want to say hi?” The woman’s face filled with relief and she allowed her hands a break and let her dog have some extra leash to say hello. The dog calmed and they began to walk away, but then another dog popped into view and the woman was being dragged off again, this time she dropped the large plastic handle and it hit the ground, shattering into pieces and retracting itself all the way back to the dog, who began fleeing in terror into the parking lot, the broken plastic handle clattering behind him.

This is honestly not the first time I have seen this happen. Retractable leashes were  invented in order to provide control over the dog while allowing it more room to roam, but instead they tend to provide little control and absolutely no guidance. Your dog is able to walk about 20ft ahead of you, sniffing and eating whatever they find, wrapping around trees or poles, and hopping into the street in front of an oncoming bicyclist if they so desire. The inventor of the retractable leash has said, “It is usually desirable that the dog should have a certain freedom in running about, but it is difficult to prevent the animal from running on the wrong side of lamp posts or pedestrians, thus causing much annoyance to the owner, who is constantly required to adjust the length of the leash in her hand, and frequently the leash is dropped and the dog permitted to run away. The objects of the present invention are to obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances due to the usual form of leash, and prevent the leash from becoming tangled as the dog runs about.” This directly translates to: “I hate dealing with my dog and just want to zone out while I walk him.” Her description is odd, considering the retractable leash allows more room to run about and go on the wrong side of posts and people, and you are CONSTANTLY adjusting the length of the leash. It is also very easy to drop, and even easier to break! 

The truth is, people only use these leashes because it is comfortable for them to hold. If you remove the large plastic handle you would be left with a thin cord that would slice into your hands, similar to walking a dog on a fishing line, and nobody wants that.

I always recommend a 6ft nylon leash. You can shorten it as much as you’d like, and no dog needs to be more than 6ft from you while on a leashed walk. You can drop it without the fear of it breaking or retracting after your dog. You can adjust your grip and hold the leash in a variety of ways depending on how you and your dog walk together. And the best part is, you are in control. Even if your dog is a puller, a flat leash provides the most control and support. I prefer the simple slip lead that tightens when the dog pulls, which usually prevents the dog from doing so. But every dog is an individual and needs what’s best for them AND you. Try out a few options to see what’s best for both of you, but leave that retractable leash on the shelf!

 

*When researching retractable leashes I discovered that there are A LOT of injuries to both humans and animals when using one of these leashes. I know when the handle is dropped it could retract and injure the dog, but I had no idea how many issues this leash actually had with injuries. They’re even illegal in some areas because of the amount of injuries! Here is a link to the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, if you’d like to read about the potential injuries causes by retractable leashes. Whatever you do, don’t Google Image search it!

I borrowed the image fromDogTime.com, which also has an informative article about retractable leashes 🙂

Fur Coat Being Bogged Down by Snowballs?

Winter finally arrived in Central Oregon and there are a lot of Pups that are new to the snow and are unsure of how to react to it!

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Yes, snow is fun. Most of us turn into little puppies when winter hits. But what happens when our fluffy side kick pops out of the frozen ground and is covered in tiny snowballs? You can pick them out with your fingers, but after a couple minutes of this activity your fingers go numb and your efforts are fruitless. If you ignore them until later they can twist further into the fur and cause painful dreadlocks.

How can you eliminate these snowballs? And more importantly how can you prevent them from ever appearing in your dog’s fluff? Here on a few tips I know of…

Snowballs can be avoided by:

  • Trimming your Pup’s fluff– trimming down their toe hair so they are more tame or even bare knuckled is an easy way to avoid snow clumps. This of course causes your Pup’s toes to be more exposed to the cold, so be careful on certain breeds and on those that rarely spend time in the cold. Some dog coats are not meant to be shaved so make sure you speak to a professional first!
  • Boots are another great way to keep paws safe from frost. I have yet to meet a dog that enjoys wearing shoes, but if you can get your Pup to use them it’s an awesome way to keep their paws and paw pads protected! I have found the best way to get my Pup excited about stuff is to wrap it like a gift! I wrapped up his boots and got very excited about them, using my best Minnie Mouse voice. I let him open them and sniff them and then gave him treats while I put on his new boots. He walked around like a baby deer stuck in tar, but then I took him outside and we played a game of soccer and he was forced to adjust to them! It’s still difficult to convince him to wear them on hikes, but treats and reassurance help him to forget about them! Ruffwear makes a lot of different kinds, so you can find the best fit for your Pup!
  • The best kept secret to avoid snow balls is… Musher’s Secret! It’s a protective wax you apply to your Pup’s pads and fur and it helps prevent snow and ice from attaching to them! You can find it at your local pet store, or on the World Wide Web!

You can remove snowballs by:

  • Brushing them out! I find slicker brushes are the best to use on snowballs. Make sure to get to the skin, as some snowballs can twist themselves up into the fur.
  • Rinsing in warm water! Make sure the water isn’t too warm, but warm enough to melt the snow. You should still brush the fur after rinsing, just in case some stubborn snow is hiding.

If you have any tips on how to remove snow and protect those precious potatoes, or know of any good dog boots let me know!

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