Category Archives: Just for Fun

How to stuff the perfect Kong.

If you have a dog and you have not heard of this wonderful toy called the Kong, you are missing out on a great tool to use to help keep your dog occupied on days when it’s hard to get him enough exercise. Kongs are hollow rubber toys that come in a variety of sizes and toughness, and while they look kind of boring on the outside, the tasty delicious food that you can stuff on the inside is hard for most dogs to resist.

A herd of Kongs.

A herd of Kongs.

For dogs who are new to unstuffing a Kong, it is best to keep things easy and very tasty. You want the dog to have instant gratification, so pick soft foods. I usually use a dab of peanut butter to cover the hole in the closed end and prevent leaks, and then add something like yogurt or cottage cheese, maybe some fruits or vegetables, a glob of peanut butter smeared down deep inside, or maybe some EZ Cheez. Something tasty and easy to lick out. This will help to create a dog who understands what the Kong is all about and finds it rewarding. It won’t take a dog very long to empty out a Kong stuffed like this, but it will be enough to distract him for a short time.

For the more advanced Kong-unstuffer, I like to make things more difficult. Stuffing Kongs ahead of time and then freezing them is a great way to make them harder and more time consuming to empty. Anything soft and moist can be frozen, even your dog’s regular dinner. Soak his kibble in some warm water, mix with a spoonful of canned food or yogurt or a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, spoon it inside and pack it in tightly, and then freeze solid. This is GREAT for a dog who is on bed rest for an injury. You have to feed him anyway– why not do it in a way that requires him to work for it?

Another way to make Kongs more challenging is to stuff large pieces of things inside so that the dog needs to manipulate it with his mouth to get it out. Dog biscuits can work wonderfully for this. You need big enough ones that it’s a tight fit, and they can be tricky to wrestle through the hole sometimes, but it’s worth it when it keeps your dog working for awhile. Apple slices or chunks of melon can serve the same purpose (remember: no grapes for dogs!). If I need a quick, challenging Kong, this is the way I’ll go. It doesn’t require time to freeze solid, but it keeps my dogs working for a bit longer.

Once you get going, there is no end to the possibilities— it just depends on how creative you want to get. Leftover Mac and Cheese? Stuff it in a Kong. Need to use up some eggs before they go bad? Scramble them up, maybe with a little bit of cheese, and stuff them in a Kong. What about a peanut butter and banana “Elvis” Kong? Or healthy scraps from last night’s dinner?

Some people like to stuff in layers- a soft bit, some crunchy stuff, and then more soft stuff on top. If it’s healthy and safe for dogs, go for it!


Keep in mind the extra calories. It is so easy for food-oriented dogs to become overweight, so if you’re feeding a lot of calories in Kongs, you’ll need to either cut back your pup’s food, start using his food portions as Kong-stuffer, or get him more exercise. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re using Kongs to entertain a dog on crate rest, when you’re probably going to need to cut his portions back anyway because he’s not getting any exercise. When I was crate resting my dog, I would dump all of his kibble for the next day into a bowl, soak it, add a little something special, and stuff it all in Kongs to freeze overnight. He didn’t really get meals during that time. Instead, he got Kongs at various times throughout the day. I don’t know how I would have gotten through those months of resting a young athletic dog without this trick. Anything that can make his food serving last longer and to require more mental work to get it is going to help me keep my crate-resting dog calmer and easier to rest.

I hope this post opened your eyes to the wonderful world of Kongs, or if you already use them, has broadened your vision of the way they can be used to occupy dogs for longer times. I seriously don’t know what I’d do without these simple toys and all the options they provide to me.


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Tips for getting better photos of your pets.

You know that here at we LOVE pet pictures. Just a quick look at our Facebook page will show you. And what we love even more is contributions from our clients. Any time you snap a great shot of your pet, feel free to either share it directly on our Facebook page or email it to and we’ll share your pet’s photo with the world.

I thought it would be fun to run through a basic list of tips for getting better photographs of your pets. There are some simple things that you can do and pay attention to that will improve your pictures whether you’re shooting with a fancy dSLR camera or your cell phone.


Lighting is a big thing. Good light will allow your camera to capture more action, and will give you a clearer photo, especially if you’re using a cell phone. Flash can be ok, but a lot of times, the light it produces is extremely harsh and washes out the good colors in your images. It also gives you the scary glowing eyes you see in so many quick impromptu snaps. So you want to make the best use you can of natural light.

Outside it’s pretty easy. The light early in the morning and heading on toward evening is going to be the best, and you want to shoot with the sun behind you whenever possible. At noon, the light is often harsh, and especially with very light or very dark dogs, getting a good photo can be tough.

Indoors is harder. Unless you have a lot of good lighting in your house, it’s often too dim to get good photos, especially action shots. Setting up a “photo shoot” by bringing extra lamps into a room can help. But you also want to take advantage of natural light coming in through windows. Cats are especially good at finding sunny spots to lounge in, and it is easy to take advantage of this to get good pictures!

Snoozing in the sunbeams.

Snoozing in the sunbeams.

Sunlight coming in a window in an otherwise darker room can also create a really neat “spotlight effect”. The sunlight can light up your pet, but leave the rest of the room dark. Especially handy for hiding the unfolded laundry on the dresser or the destuffed toy pieces on the floor.

Spotlight on Luce.

Spotlight on Luce.


The biggest tip for backgrounds is pay attention to what’s there! It is so easy to put your focus on the subject of your picture (your pet) and not pay any attention to what is behind them. This can end up with embarrassing photos on occasion (we’ve all seen them, right?) but it can also just clutter up what would be a lovely photo. By paying attention to what’s there, sometimes you can simply shoot from a different angle to cut out the clutter. Move around, experiment with shooting from a high angle or a low angle, framing the photo with the pet on one side or another instead of in the middle.

The best backgrounds are ones with consistent textures– grass, sky, water, a blanket, a blank wall. They are non-distracting and let the viewer focus just on your pet.

Grass and trees behind Macie blend nicely into a non-distracting background.

Grass and trees behind Macie blend nicely into a non-distracting background.

But sometimes it is fun to do precisely the opposite- use an especially interesting background to enhance the photo. Here we captured Ein the Corgi on the rocks of a crazy trail that we were hiking up. To show the scope of the rocks and the steepness of the terrain, we included Ein’s cute little self.

Climbing a really big hill.

Climbing a really big hill.

Get down on their level!

By getting down level with your pet and shooting straight on, you’re better able to capture your pet in a natural way. Looking down all the time can create weird angles, and it also will frequently hide the cute face of your pet. A straight-on photo, instead, will capture all the cuteness.

Getting down on puppy level can sometimes be dangerous!

Getting down on puppy level can sometimes be dangerous!

Shooting Portraits

Portraits are great for capturing the expression, personalit, and soul of your pet. Whether you’re shooting a full-body portrait or a close-up, I really think portraits do the best job of capturing the essence of our pets. A beautiful portrait can be a very special thing for a pet owner.

If your dog knows a basic sit/stay, it can be easy to take good portraits. To get their attention on you, you can crinkle a plastic wrapper, whistle, make funny sounds, wave treats around, even use a squeaky toy. You can use the “bait” to move your dog’s focus from straight on to profile or whatever you’d like. It is often useful to enlist the help of an assistant who can be in charge of keeping the dogs in place as well as doing what is needed to perk up those ears.

Close-up portrait.

Close-up portrait.

Cats can be trickier, but some of the same rules apply. While I’d fall off my chair if I ever had a cat who would stay in one place because I requested it, toys and treats are great ways to get your cat to look pretty for the camera. You have to be quick with cats, though! It seems like they are constantly in motion whenever they’re in front of the camera. Here I used a feather toy to get Figment’s attention (and to keep him where I wanted him).

Eyes on the prize.

Eyes on the prize.

Action shots!

Action shots are so much fun. Capturing your dog running with his lips flapping everywhere is a hoot. Catching your cat at the moment he flips a catnip mouse into the air is priceless.

Action shots can be full-body or they can be close-ups. Again, enlisting the help of an assistant can be tremendously useful. A well-placed thrown toy can help you get the photo of your pet running toward you or across a field in front of you. Teasing a cat with a toy and getting him jumping around creates wonderful, sometimes hilarious photos.

In this case, Zen was being called across the field, giving me the opportunity to snap a head-on, lips-flapping view of him as he returned enthusiastically to his owner for a treat.

Big mouth bully on the run.

Big mouth bully on the run.

Candids are great, too! Keep your eyes open and your camera handy, your batteries charged and your memory card installed. There are photo ops around every corner, and capturing those special moments with your pet can help you hold onto your memories for a lifetime.

Nothing does flappy lips like a St. Bernard.

Nothing does flappy lips like a St. Bernard.

I hope you found this post useful and inspiring. We would absolutely love to see what you can do with your camera. Please please share with us, either in the comments here, by email, or on Facebook. Everybody loves showing off their pets, so see what you can do to capture special moments. Think outside the box! Use different angles, dress your pet up in a funny hat, pose them somewhere unexpected, use the filters built into your camera or phone (Instagram, anyone?)– whatever it takes to capture your pet’s unique personality.

And above all, have fun!

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Cats, Dogs, Just for Fun


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Let the games begin!

With the Olympics in progress, I thought it would be fun to go over the huge variety of different dog sports out there for people to participate in with their dogs. There are so many games out there to play with your dog, whether you’re competitive-minded or not. Anything that gets you out doing something fun with your dog is a huge benefit to you both, so check out this list of dog sports and see if there is one that fits you and your dog’s personalities.

Zipper working a serpentine on a rally course. Photo by Kevin Devine Photography.

Zipper the MinPin heeling a serpentine on a rally course. Photo by Kevin Devine Photography.

No matter what sport you choose, the first place to start is almost always going to be a basic obedience class. Obedience classes aren’t just for teaching your dog to sit and down and stay. They are where you learn how to effectively teach your dog. How to communicate with him. How to get the behaviors you want, and get rid of the behaviors that you don’t. Once you learn this skill, you can apply it to anything, from sitting for petting from strangers to running an agility course at a high speed.

The easiest sport to transition into from beginner obedience is typically Rally Obedience. Rally Obedience is such a fun sport. It combines elements of obedience with a course set-up similar to agility. You never know what you’re going to get, and you have to put thought into what the best way is to navigate through the course. In the Beginning Level, the dog is on leash. You can talk to him the entire time you’re out there with him. You follow the signs that tell you what to do at each station (all kinds of turns (90, 180, 270, 360); all combinations of sits, downs, and stands; heeling through cones, and in the upper levels things as complicated as sending the dog over a jump or having him change positions from a stand to a sit with you at a distance). This sport is offered by a number of different organizations including the AKC, the UKC, and Cynosport. In Cynosport, you are allowed to feed your dog treats in the ring to reward him. All three organizations allow mixed breed dogs, but they do need to be registered with the organization in order to compete.

Cherrybomb the Doberman performs the recall to front. Photo by  DPCTZ.

Cherrybomb the Doberman performs the recall to front. Photo by DPCTZ.

For those people who are very detail-oriented and enjoy precision, traditional obedience may be a good choice. In traditional obedience, the game is much more rigidly structured. You may only speak to your dog at certain times. Straight sits, perfect heel position, and all the picky little details are judged much more stringently in traditional obedience. But it can still be a fun game. In the Novice level, dogs perform a heeling pattern called out by a judge both on the lead an off, a figure 8 around two people, a stand while the judge does a very minimal “exam” while the owner stands six feet away, a recall across the ring, and group sit stays and down stays. In the upper levels, things get far more interesting. There are jumps. There is retrieving. There is picking out a specific item from a group of similar items based solely on scent. It’s a lot to learn, but all that work with your dog is priceless, as long as you are both enjoying it. Again, there are a variety of organizations that offer Obedience trials. The most popular and competitive is AKC, but the UKC also offers it, as well as an organization called CDSP which offers a more laid-back environment, allows you to talk to your dog in the ring, and will allow certain judge-approved exercise modifications for dogs with physical concerns.

Steve, a Border Collie, at full speed. Photo by Jim Geiser Photography.

Steve, a Border Collie, at full speed. Photo by Jim Geiser Photography.

For dogs and owners who enjoy a faster-paced game, the sport of flyball may be just what you’re looking for. In flyball, teams of four dogs race one another over a course of four jumps to the flyball “box” which pops out a tennis ball for the dog to catch before racing back. It is fast and LOUD and chaotic and a ton of fun. Flyball is a sport that dogs of all sizes, breeds, and mixes can play, but is best suited to small and medium dogs. Dogs need to be interested in tennis balls and able to focus on a job in the midst of barking and running dogs. But you start off slowly in training and gradually build up to the point of chaos.

Flyball seems to be becoming more popular in our area, with classes being offered at many different training centers. Check out the North American Flyball Association website for more information on the sport and to locate a team or a tournament to watch near you. (Many are held at the York Expo Center or In the Net in Palmyra. They are free to the public, and well-behaved dogs are welcome.)

Deemer, a Border Collie/ Jack Russell mix playing agility. Photo by K. Bell

Deemer, a Border Collie/ Jack Russell mix playing agility. Photo by K. Bell

Agility combines both technical skill and speed. In agility, dogs navigate courses consisting of jumps, tunnels, and sometimes equipment called a dogwalk and an a-frame that they have to climb, and a teeter-totter that tips under their feet. There are a wide variety of different “games” varying from one organization to another. In some games, the handler gets to make up their own course with certain point or equipment requirements. In other games dogs have to take the jumps and obstacles in a certain order. Open to dogs of all sizes and shapes, there’s a venue suitable for everyone.

Agility takes a lot of time and work to do well and to do safely. Dogs need to understand how to handle the equipment in a safe manner, and handlers need to learn how to direct their dogs to turn and discriminate between obstacles. And to stay at the start line (that’s a hard one!). It can be overwhelming and awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is a ton of fun, and there is always a new challenge to face.

Truly I think there are few things as beautiful in the world as watching a sighthound lure course.

Vesper the Whippet at high speed. Photo by K. Bell

Vesper the Whippet at high speed. Photo by K. Bell

In this game, dogs chase a moving lure around a pre-set course. Mostly trials are for Sighthounds (Greyhounds, Whippets, etc) but it is a game that appeals to many different breeds (herding dogs! terriers!). The AKC has even made lure-coursing available to all breeds through their Coursing Aptitude Test, and several training clubs in the area hold classes or fun events where your dog can try the sport on for size.

Last but not least in this overview of a number of the games out there to play with your dogs (part two coming soon– there are SO MANY OPTIONS!), is the brand new sport of Barnhunt. In Barnhunt, dogs of all sizes and breeds and mixes are released to locate and signal where on a course of hay bales and loose straw rats are hidden in secure tubes.

Is there a rat in there? Photo by Melissa Sheehan

Is there a rat in there? Photo by Melissa Sheehan

Many dogs are natural hunters, and this game encourages to use their noses to sniff out vermin. There have long been terrier-only games that included searching out rats, but for the first time, it has been designed in a way that allows dogs large and small to participate. Dogs love being given an outlet for their natural instincts, and Barnhunt plays perfectly into the very essence of being a dog.

I hope you enjoyed this summary of just a few of the dog sports out there to play with your dog. I have a list of half-a-dozen more for another time, but if something on this list inspired you or sparked an interest, I hope that you pursue it. Maybe a child in your household would find one of these sports fun– there are junior handler programs for many of them. Whatever you think when reading this, I hope it encourages you to get out there and do something with your dog that will enrich both of your lives.

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Dogs, Just for Fun, Training


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10 things every spoiled rotten dog should have.

Last month we looked at some of the best ways to care for and enrich your cat’s environment, so this month we are looking at some of the best ways to spoil our dogs rotten.

But we start out this post at the same place, with

1. Care Credit. Care Credit is a credit card specifically geared toward healthcare (yours and your pet’s- I’ve used mine at my dentist’s office). It is easier to get than a regular credit card and allows you six months interest free to pay off a balance of over $200. Make sure that you read the fine print- if you miss a payment or do not pay off the balance within the allotted time, you will be responsible for all that interest. But this can be a great tool in an emergency to buy you some time to get funds together and not have to take the entire hit at once. And goodness knows, with all the goofy things that dogs do (and eat!) having an extra payment option available can never hurt.

2. A well-fitted, sturdy collar with readable tags. This is your dog’s first line of defense from getting lost forever. A well-fitted collar that the dog cannot pull out of, kept in good repair, and hung with a legible tag with your contact information on it is the best chance of getting your dog home. Rabies tags and dog licenses are also tools to identify and get a dog returned to his family, but they require an extra step and the availability of extra people- either animal control or your local veterinarian’s office. A good nametag with your phone number clearly printed on it is your dog’s best bet to get home quickly.

3. A microchip. If your dog’s first line of identification– his collar and tags– fails, a microchip can still get your dog back to you. Shelters, veterinarians, and many police officers have scanners, and as long as your pet’s microchip is REGISTERED and has ACCURATE INFORMATION attached to it, he has a good chance of getting back to you. When we microchip pets at White Oaks, we automatically go ahead and register them for you with the information you provide, so that there are no worries that it is done. A microchip will also allow you to get a lifetime license for your dog- you pay one time and don’t have to worry about it ever again.

Bully sticks make for good chewing and are fully digestible.

4. Things to Chew. Most dogs love to chew. It keeps them occupied, it helps them to destress, and appropriate chew toys can be a great way for them to clean their teeth. Dog chews are available in everything from plastic Nylabones in a variety of shapes, textures, and even flavors (I get a kick out of the dinosaur ones); to dried meat and smoked hooves; to real marrow bones from the butcher; to antlers. You want to pick a size and hardness appropriate to your dog. A small dog will usually require a smaller, maybe even softer chew toy, whereas a small chew toy is dangerous for a big dog who could swallow it whole and risk having it lodge in his throat, stomach, or intestines, requiring emergency medical attention.

Rawhides can be a good choice or a bad choice, depending on your dog. For dogs who are thorough chewers, they can be a good choice. For dogs who inhale treats whole, they are a bad choice because, again, they can get stuck. If you do feed rawhides, make sure the ones you buy are made in America, not just packaged in America. Chinese-made rawhides have shown up with some pretty scary chemicals on them.

Cooked bones, on the other hand, are never a good choice. Cooked (including smoked) bones have a high tendency to splinter, and those spinters can wreak havoc in your dog’s mouth and in his gut. This means no cooked bones from your kitchen, no turkey carcass, no hambones, no steak bones. It’s just not worth the risk.



5. Toys to chase. Fetch is a great game to play with your dog. Many of them love it, and it is terrific exercise. Whether it is a frisbee, a ball, or any of the wide variety of toys available for fetch games, time spent playing with your dog is good for him and good for you as well. Dogs who do not naturally fetch can be taught to do so. Some dogs love to retrieve in water, and that is even better exercise for them if you have a safe swimming hole available.

But chasing can come in other forms, too. Many dogs like a toy referred to as a flirt pole. This pretty much amounts to a giant cat toy for dogs. A rope run through a long piece of PCV pipe that acts as a handle with a fun chase-able toy on the end. It’s like a giant fishing rod, basically, and a lot of dogs go crazy for it (especially terriers and herding breeds). It allows you to exercise a dog in a relatively small space without having to exert yourself very much. This game should not be played with dogs who have joint issues or who do not know how to release a toy that they’ve grabbed onto, but it is also a terrific way to teach self-control (wait to chase the toy until told, lie down and stay to make the game start). So. Much. Fun.

6. A cozy bed. There is a huge variety of dog beds available for purchase, ranging from cheap to ridiculously expensive. They come in soft and cushy, firm, orthopedic, even heated. Or, you know. The couch and your bed work too, depending on your preferences. But older dogs especially tend to enjoy a soft place to park their bones, and it is easier on their bodies to have something cushioned and soft.

Stuffed Kongs make dogs happy.

Stuffed Kongs make dogs happy.

7. Food-dispensing toys. Food-dispensing toys are a great way to occupy your dog’s mind, as well as to slow down his eating. There are two basic types of food-dispensing toys available- toys that dogs have to work to unstuff (Kong), and toys that dogs have to push, shove, bat around, or otherwise manipulate to cause the food to come out (Kong Wobbler, Buster Cube, Tricky Treat Ball, Tug-a-Jug).

The right toy to choose is the one your dog likes. Kongs are great because they can be pre-stuffed with tasty snacks and frozen for a time when you need your dog to take a break and do something quiet. And they can be stuffed with all kinds of different foods! Think outside the box! Yogurt works great, small amounts of peanut butter, canned food, fruits and veggies, kibble soaked in broth- anything that is soft and will freeze well. You can also stuff large, hard-to-remove treats like biscuits into Kongs that the dog will have to work and manipulate to get out, but some dogs are easily frustrated by this and give up quickly.

Dogs need to eat, and most dogs love to eat. Using that most basic drive as a way to exercise your dog’s brain is a simple way to enrich his life.

8. A warm jacket when it’s cold outside. Many dogs don’t mind the cold, but some breeds and some individual dogs are, well, delicate flowers and appreciate protection from the cold. Dogs with smooth, sleek coats like Dobermans, Whippets, and even Boxers and pit bulls tend to be more bothered by low temperatures. Smaller dogs are also more likely to mind the cold, in part because they have a smaller body mass, but also because their bodies are closer to the snow on the ground.

Like with beds, there are an endless array available. Simple tshirts and sweaters, fleece jackets such as Fido Fleece, and more expensive outwear such as Hurtta, Foggy Mountain, and Ruffwear. And if you are handy with a tape-measure and a sewing machine, there are so many adorable fleece prints available to make your own snuggly jackets.

Puppy class is so much fun!

Puppy class is so much fun!

9. Training Classes. Training classes are a great way to bond with your dog and learn how to teach him what you want from him. Puppy class is especially important and FUN! but it is never too late to join a class. And there are more than just obedience sit, down, stay, come, walk on a leash classes out there. Dog sports are exploding, and there is something out there for every dog. Does your dog love to play ball? Maybe check out flyball classes. Enjoy running and jumping and climbing? Agility might be a good match for you. Does your dog love to sniff? Nosework classes are a lot of fun for dogs. There are classes for teaching tricks, there are classes for teaching manners, there are classes for learning to dance with your dog. Heck, I’ve even seen classes that combine yoga with dogs (dubbed “Doga”). There are a number of training schools around- take a look to see if there is something out there that sounds like fun to you.

10. Daily Exercise and Enrichment. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog. Our dogs, even older ones, need daily exercise and enrichment in their lives to keep them happy, healthy, and fit. A walk around town to let your pup sniff all the smells, a hike in the woods, a good game of fetch or hide and seek, or ten minutes training a new trick are all options that help give your dog what he needs. Continued mental stimulation is important in young dogs to help tire out their brains so they are less likely to make up their own fun games that you won’t like so much, and it is important into the golden years to help your dog maintain her capabilities. Use your imagination, think outside the box, and above all- have fun with your furry friend. After all, that’s why we have them!

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Behavior, Dogs, Just for Fun


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The staff pets of White Oaks (or: why we do what we do)

One of the things I love most about working in a veterinary hospital is seeing day in and day out the bond between pets and their owners. We know you guys, and we know your four-footed friends, but you really don’t know ours. So I want to offer you this week a quick peek into the furry companions of some of our staff members.



Brittany shares her home with a Chocolate Lab named Dave and a cat named Doug, but the pet that has meant the most to her was the Black Lab, Winston, that her family got when she was nine. They grew up together. He was her best buddy; she was his favorite human. She felt like they were on the same level, that they had a connection like they did because they were “kids” growing up together. She spent her childhood chasing him around to all the neighbors’ houses that he went to visit, dressing him up in clothes, and in true Lab style, he pretty much ate any anything his eyes made contact with. He also loved to be outside and play “sticky stick”, more commonly known as “fetch”.

From Winston, she learned compassion toward animals as well as responsibility. That special bond with him led her to work in the veterinary field, and because of it, she understands the bond other people have with their pets, as well as the sometimes weird things that pets do, because Winston did the same. And she understands the great lengths people will go to to save or help their pets, because they truly are family, like children or brothers and sisters.

Winston left his mark in Brittany’s life. She’s had Labrador Retrievers ever since.



Katie B shares her home with a crew of four cats, two Border Collies, an elderly pit bull, a small brown dog, and a hamster named Tina. She is a dog person through and through. The dog who changed her life is her first pit bull, Luce, adopted from the shelter as a young adult, wild, reactive, dog-aggressive, and a complete whirling dervish on a leash. From Luce, she got her first taste of dog training, and it got her hooked. She learned how to work with a dog through rewarding good behavior and setting the dog up to succeed instead of trying to punish out the bad behavior. It took a lot of effort, but it was completely worth it, as Luce ended up with titles in multiple dog sports and two national rankings in APDT Rally Obedience, the first pit bull (and the second) to be nationally ranked. Luce was a “gateway dog”, as because of her, Katie got more and more involved in dog training and has now expanded her horizons from Rally and Obedience to Agility and Flyball. Luce’s favorite things are people, warm snuggly beds, hiking and swimming, and chew toys. Also, she enjoys making trouble whenever she can.

She has been an amazing teacher for Katie over the past ten years. She taught her that even “tough” and “stubborn” dogs do not need a heavy hand to be trained. She taught her to think outside the box and to be flexible and patient. She taught her that dogs don’t need to love other dogs, and that’s ok. She taught her that behaviors can be changed, even ridiculous over-the-top screaming reactiveness toward dogs. And she taught her to have a thick skin when it comes to the judgements that come from owning a “dangerous” breed of dog.

What she brings from all of this to her job? An understanding of dogs, behavior, body language, and how to work with difficult animals in the least stressful way possible. She understands the frustration and the heartache and the embarrassment on the part of the owners of “problem” dogs. She understands the strength of the bond between human and pet that is difficult to put into words. And she hopes that all of this makes her a resource for our clients in their journeys with their own pets.



Katie G, on the other hand, is a cat person through and through. She currently lives with three cats and a Pomeranian, and while every pet is special to her, Murphy is her favorite. She has only only had him for three years, but in that time he has been by her side through all her ups and downs, always ready to cuddle.

What made her choose him? He dances when he’s happy. His hind legs do little ballerina toe touches while he purrs up a storm and it is adorable and irresistable. He is always ready and wanting to cuddle, and his favorite spot, as you might guess from the picture, is around her neck as she is reading or watching television.

Murphy enjoys spending time watching the two very active new kittens in the house, and at times he gets in the spirit himself and darts around the house like he’s had five cups of coffee. And he LOVES laying right next to the fireplace for hours, soaking in the warmth.

Murphy has taught Katie most of all about unconditional love. She has never had a cat who was so attached to her, so constantly wanting to cuddle, and always happy to see her when she gets home. Her love for him helps her to connect with clients at work. She knows how much she loves him and how she would do anything for him. She loves being able to be one of the people providing the type of caring, supportive help that she would want for her own beloved kitty.

Jacey shares her home with two cats and two dogs, but she definitely considers herself a dog person. Oakley and Dakota are both special to her. Oakley and DakotaThey are her and her husband’s first pets as a married couple. Oakley is smart and attentive and Dakota is lovey and cuddly.

Dakota has her stuffed camel that she carries around. She cannot properly greet a person until she has her camel in her mouth. She used to have a wooly mammoth but she carried him too much…

The thing that this pair of dogs has taught her the most is the power of unconditional love. Even after a rough day at work, going home and being greeted by a wiggly Chocolate Lab and a happy tail wagging Border Collie makes the day so much better.



Pam is a cat person through and through. She and her husband currently live with four adult cats, two adorable kittens, and a very brave finch. Pam’s heart-cat, though, is no longer with her. He was a gray and white Domestic Shorthair cat that she adopted from the Humane League once upon a time. When she picked him out, he was just sitting in his cage with his paws tucked under him, looking very cute. At home he was the most destructive kitten ever (and excellent at breaking things) but he grew into an extremely social, easy-going and friendly cat. He loved to play “footsie” under the door and he liked stealing Cap’n Crunch from her husband’s cereal bowl.

But what he mostly gave Pam was his unconditional love, and that relationship is one that she brings to her work with the clients and pets she sees every day in her work. She fully understands the bond between the owner and the pet, and that pets are a true part of the family if you allow them to be. It’s not “just a cat”. It’s a family member.

Chester is gone now, but Pam keeps him close with a picture on her kitchen counter and a beautiful tattoo on her shoulder.



Lori considers herself to be both a cat and a dog person, but she currently lives with two dogs, 1 cockatiel, and some fish. Her favorite pet is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix named Jeter. He has been the most disciplined dog her family has ever owned. He is her buddy, following her everywhere she goes and wanting to please her.

Jeter is a boy who loves to go for walks. He doesn’t say no to food ever. He eats everything from bananas to watermelon to pickles!

Unconditional love is what Jeter has given to Lori. No matter how she feels or how he feels, he is always there wanting to please her and be by her side. It makes her appreciate animals so much more to have such a special one in her life, and Lori’s relationship with Jeter helps her better understand what pet owners are dealing with and where the compassion for their beloved four-legged family members is coming from.

Dr. Lauren definitely counts herself as a dog person. She and Dr. Ron own two Golden Retrievers, Callie and Cooper. But the dog who was most special to her was another Golden named Buckley. Buckley was the only puppy born from a breeding between her other two Goldens, Beckett and Brooke, which was fortunate because he was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 16 months. He lived to the age of 6 1/2 despite dealing with lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma. He was instrumental in developing a human cancer treatment while being treated for his own cancer through Veterinary Oncology Services and the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. He did not have “traditional” chemo the whole time and lived a good life, acting like a normal dog through the five years of on again off again treatments.



Buckley loved hiking and playing ball, romping in the snow, and special treats like spaghetti-os, pizza crust, and the occasional Wilbur Bud. He taught Dr. Lauren about living life to its fullest every day, about unconditional love, about trust, and about perserverance. Because of Buckley’s influence, Dr. Lauren became interested in treating other pets with chemo and because she has been there, she can truly empathize with the emotions that clients go through while their own pets are being treated.

Buckley’s loss was very hard on Dr. Lauren. She spent his last weekend at home with him, treating him with IV fluids, and missing a family member’s wedding. She keeps his ashes along with the ashes of all their other dogs, and has a special stone in the yard commemorating him. It took her some time to grieve and heal after his loss before bringing another dog into their family. She wanted to be sure she was ready to fully commit to a new family member.

We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into the hearts of our staff members and their experiences with their own pets. Every day we are honored to share in the lives and bonds of our clients and their pets. We thought it would be a nice change to allow you a glimpse into our own lives with our pets. We would love it if you would share your own experiences with special life-changing pets in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your and your pets’ lives.

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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Cats, Dogs, Just for Fun


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