2017

Happy 2017!

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Amigo

I usually try not to make a list of New Years resolutions (for obvious reasons), but this year I broke my own rule. I actually made my entire family sit down – even my 3 year old – to discuss #1 on my resolution list:

Be a better family to our dogs.

While such a statement might seem vague, it is ambiguous on purpose. Each one of us might take that to to mean something different…and that’s ok. One thing is certain, though, we need to start treating Buffy & Amigo as full fledged family members NOT second class citizens.

As many of you blog readers know, Theodore arrived on the scene in March and my whole world changed. What few precious seconds of free time I enjoyed was quickly replaced by exhaustion, laundry (seriously – how did one tiny human seem to DOUBLE our dirty clothes production?), and a sense that I was forever running 5 minutes behind.

As a dog lover and self proclaimed dog expert, I had decided I would not be a mom who would forget about her dogs once children became part of my life – and  I have made it a point to do this. I make sure to give each one of them individual attention every day. I cuddle with them in bed at night. Someone is home most of the day – so they are constantly enjoying fresh air and are rarely left alone. BUT THIS IS NOT ENOUGH. They need more!

Back to this resolution – being “better”. Dogs need exercise…not just fresh air. They need mental stimulation…not just attention. It’s not enough to spring for the all natural, gluten free, organic dog treats!  They don’t need another toy!  They need me making an effort to help them be what they were born to be – dogs.

Well, they don’t need just me. They need US. One of my pet peeves in life is when people say a dog is “mine” when they are part of a family unit. That is the equivalent of me decided to rent out our guest bedroom and tell my husband “I” got a roommate.  With dogs and cats – you are all in it together; everyone has to put in some sort of effort.

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Buffy

So 2017 will be the year of the dogs over here at the Fuentes house. Right now that means more exercise (walks), more playtime (with a human actively taking part), and more tricks (to keep my lab’s brain working). Work, preschool, lack of sleep, lack of motivation, weather…these are not excuses!!!  Just as I would not leave my 3 year old to decided just how his days should be spent…I will take a more active part on how my 4 legged children spend their days.

My other big resolution is to BLOG MORE. It’s what I love…and somehow it gets pushed to the side just like those other things I love: peace & quiet. 

Comment below and let me know what your New Years resolutions are…especially if they are dog related!

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Hello 2014

With only hours left in 2013, I wanted to take just a few minutes to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

2013 was a year I will never forget.  Not only was this the year my personal life changed forever (hello baby Sebastian!) but it was also a great year for me professionally as well.  As my company and this blog continue to grow I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to earn a living doing something I love.  I truly love what I do.  I love caring for dogs and cats.  I love writing about the animals we invite into our homes and into our lives.  I love sharing my knowledge with others to help make people’s’ (and pets’) lives just that much more enjoyable.  Thank you for reading this blog and supporting what I do.

As I move toward a new year (and new resolutions, heaven help me!) I strive to appreciate life as it comes.  I want to learn how not to stress out about each and every curve ball that comes my way.  I want to try not to worry so much about what happened yesterday…and what will surely happen tomorrow…and just live in the moment.  I want to take time to smell the roses.  I want to appreciate those who love me – even if I can only show my appreciation in the smallest, simplest ways.  I want to snuggle under the covers.  I want to play more.

In other words – I strive to be more like my dogs!

Happy New Year!

5 Dog Specific New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make (don’t worry…they are realistic!)

2013 is here!

Usually, I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions.  (Let’s be realistic…who sticks to those anyways!)  Call it maturity – or insanity – but this year I decided to outline a few areas of my life that I might improve upon.  I didn’t write them down….I didn’t tell anyone…but I am going to keep them in the back of my mind as I travel through 2013.

Then I realized it might not be such a bad idea to make new year’s resolutions – just for my pups.   My dogs are my constant companions…but when things get crazy, their wants and needs seem to be the first things to slip my mind.  So, here is my list of 5 Dog Specific New Year’s Resolutions.  Consider them suggestions, loyal readers; let’s see if we can take a few minutes out of each day and brighten our dogs’ lives.

1.) Hang out – OUTSIDE!  Amigo Outside

Imagine being stuck in your house for 23.5 hours a day.  (Ok, so the first day would be glorious if you didn’t have to go out to work/run errands/be productive…but EVERY day?)  Now imagine you are genetically hard-wired to roam around in the sunshine, but you are literally imprisoned in a house.  (As humans, we really can’t even imagine what this is like!)  This is the life of your dog.  Dogs are animals first…and animals spend all their life outside.  Do I want you to walk your dog?  Of course I do!  Walking is great bonding and is an awesome way for you both to exercise!  Do I want you to take your dog to the dog park?  Of course I do!  What fun for your dog to get to make friends and socialize!  Do I think it is realistic to tell you to routinely spend hours of your life doing these things with your dog?  Of course I don’t!  What can you do?  You can spend time with your dog in your own backyard.  You can take your dog with you when you visit your mom…go to the drive-up teller at the bank…go pick up fast food.  Get them out of the house – when it’s convenient for you.  Your pups will rearrange their schedules!

2.) Challenge their minds!

Some people (not you, of course!) think that dogs lack intelligence.  This could not be further from the truth.  Let me tell you – when you were a kiddo, you weren’t that smart.  Your mom and dad had to spend hours teaching you how to talk, how to walk, how to read.  They devoted their whole lives to it!  Dogs, like humans, WANT to learn…and (unlike you in your childhood) they WANT to please their parents.  So teach them!  What can you do? As I have blogged before, I think you would be surprised at how quickly dogs pick up vocabulary.  This could be as easy as saying “bone” every time you hand them a bone, or “Kong” every time they bring you their Kong for a peanut butter refill.  Before too long, you can create a game – say the word, and as soon as your pooch brings the item to you…give her a treat.  (You won’t need the treats for long – pups love this.)   You can even sit on your lazy behind for this one!  You can do it on commercial breaks, for goodness sake!  It give your dog something to do, and they will love you for it.  (There are also lots of puzzle toys you can get to entertain your dog while you are busy/away.)

3.) Keep them healthy!

Of course you take good care of your dog!  You keep them hydrated and nourished.  You give them treats and blankets and (if they are lucky) let them sleep in your bed.  Some things, though, might slip your mind.  What can you do?  Every dog, every month, should be given heartworm medication.  (I am especially bad about forgetting this.  I feel horrible!  I have the medicine, but just can’t seem to remember to give it to them monthly!)  There are also little things you can do to keep your pups in tip-top shape.  Cleaning out their ears every 2 weeks, trimming their nails, bathing them…all things we can do in our own homes that take a matter of minutes, yet sometimes these things slip our minds!  Picking up poop is another thing we often forget.  It’s our yard, why should we have to worry?  It’s in the back, no one will see it.  Dogs are low to the ground.  They aren’t careful to avoid their waste, and they trample right through it.  Then, their paws itch and they lick them.  Not hygienic!  (Oh – and they come right inside and jump on your furniture, pillows, bed, carpet…you see where I’m going with this.)

Dog reading4.) Educate yourself!

How many books on dogs are there?  We surely will never know, but it seems a new one comes out weekly.  There are books on dog training, breeds, behavior, history, evolution…science has finally gotten around to studying the animals that live closest too us.  There is a seemingly endless fountain of knowledge when it comes to our four-legged loves!  What can you do?  READ!  Pick up any dog book that looks interesting to you, and read it.  (I am a big fan of the library…so don’t even give me the excuse you don’t want to shell out the dough.)  Even if you don’t pick up the most highly regarded one, it will get you thinking.  Maybe you won’t agree with what that nut job author tells you to do, and you’ll start a conversation with your coworker about his dog.  Maybe you won’t believe that a dog’s brain works like that, and a Google search will lead you to a site that will confirm the unbelievable and get you asking more questions.  In any case, you will get a better understanding of what your dog is thinking or feeling…and why they are thinking or feeling that in the first place.

5.)  Give them undivided attention!

Ok, so this last one is a broad statement.  I’m not going to suggest where you do it, when you do it, or how you do it.  I’m not going to say how often you should or how long it should last.  I’m just going to suggest you spending some quality time with your furry best friend.  What can you do?  Put down your cell phone (I’m not even going to tell you to turn it off, because we are staying realistic here, people!)  Turn off the TV.  Shut down the iPad.  Just BE with your dog.   Talk to him.  Pet him.  Kiss him.   Love him.  Does he want you to throw the ball?  Do it!  Does he want you to lay down and nap beside him?  Do it!  All he ever wanted was to have your attention and to make you happy.  (And treats…he wants treats!)  Remember why you got this little guy in the first place!  It wasn’t to bark every time your doorbell rang or to track mud in from the yard.  You got him to be your companion and to make you happy.  Let him do his job!

Pablo and Buffy

Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#1)

Happy first Wednesday of 2012!

With they year still fresh and new, we all have resolutions on the brain.  (See how you can enlist the help of your dog to reach your new year’s goals.)  I have quite a few resolutions myself…one of them includes making the Wags & Whiskers blog the most amazing blog it can be!  This means doing more research, getting more educated, giving away more goodies, spending more time with animals (is that possible?!), and basically giving you MORE of what you want to read.  That being said, I would welcome suggestions on topics or other blogs I could look too for inspiration.  I also would love for this blog to be more of a conversation…in other words, I would love to hear from you!

Now that I’ve used the word “more” far too many times, let’s move on to what we all really need in 2012…MORE puppy pics!

Happy New Year!

Angel - one of the sweetest dogs I have EVER met!

 

Jack - it took me many tries to get a pic of this guy sitting still. The energy on this one!

 

My own lazy pup after a fun filled New Year's Eve with her BFF Scarlett

Introducing Your 2012 Life Coach – Your Dog

Ah, the dreaded new year’s resolutions.  We have all made them, and I would venture to say a majority of us never stick to them.  Over the past decade, I’ve pretty much given up making resolutions.  It’s not that I don’t want to better myself….it’s just that I really don’t have the time.  Ok. Ok.  I realize that is a horrible thing to say, but I think you understand what I mean.

While mulling over January ideas for the blog (and the inevitable “resolution” post I knew I was sure to make) I realized that it really wasn’t that I didn’t care or didn’t want to invest the time in creating a “New & Improved Jessica”.  It was that I cannot do things alone.  I am just not self motivated when it comes me.  I have no problem accomplishing tasks for work or doing things to help family and friends – but if it is something “Jessica related,” I’m in trouble!  My (somewhat) impressive weight loss last year can be 100% attributed to the fact that my (now) husband works out often and would drag me along.  (I would never go to the gym by myself!)  Any strides I have made in improving my health (I unfortunately struggle with Type 1 diabetes) are simply the result of a mom who guilts and nags me to the doctor and away from cookies.   Simply put – I need a buddy to help me out.

Don’t we all need a buddy to help us reach our goals?  (The last time I checked, the definition of “buddy” did not discriminate against four-legged friends!)

Let’s turn to our dogs for motivation!  We help them….now let’s let them help us!

Diet

What an ugly word,  But let us now use the word “diet” to describe what we eat….not the starvation plan we are attempting to master.  I know most of my readers do not make their own dog food, but that doesn’t mean that your dog has to eat straight from a bag all the time.  Mixing veggies into your dog’s meals is a great way to keep them healthy.  I don’t think I need to explain why (it’s for the same reason YOU need to eat veggies!)  Of course, not all vegetables are dog friendly (check out information on what/how to feed your dog here or here.)  The next time you think it’s a waste to buy or prepare all those green beans, think about your poor pooch.  He can only eat what you feed him!  (Yes, guilt is a powerful tool when it comes to new year’s resolutions.)

Exercise

Many people think the word “exercise” means hours at the gym or a personal trainer or running an insane distance.  Walking, though, is something that can be done by everyone.  Whether you are old, young, fat, thin, canine….everyone benefits from walking.  It is free.  It is painless.  It will not help you magically shed that extra 50 pounds you are looking to lose for bikini season, but it will make a real difference in your health.  Best of all, though, your dog will LOVE you for it.  People really underestimate how much dogs love to go for walks.  Most dogs will walk anywhere with you – and are extremely excited to do so.  As a species, they spent all their time outside roaming for hundreds of years…and we expect them to sit inside and wait for us all day and then sit inside and watch us watch TV at night.  As you start to sink into that chair after a hard day’s work – think of how happy and content your dog is when the two of you are outside.  (Motivation!)

Chill Out

I haven’t read over your resolutions, but I would  guess one  of them has to do with your mental state. (Not that I’m saying you are crazy!)  Maybe you have a hard time leaving things at work.  Maybe day-to-day issues tend to get under your skin.  (I stress about literally EVERYTHING…so one of my resolutions is simply to “chill out.” )  This is where your dog really will be your buddy.  Why did you get a dog?  Seriously….can you answer that question?  Has your pup become one more thing on your to do list?  (Gosh!  I have to feed the dog AGAIN today!?!)  I try to get goofy with my dog daily.  I wait until I’m alone, I make sure all the windows and curtains are shut, and I get nutty.  I run around, I jump over things, I sing, I dance, I kiss her, I make funny faces.  She LOVES it!  She gets just as silly…and we both end up laughing and panting.  Have you ever tried to be stressed out while playing with a dog?  IMPOSSIBLE!  Have you ever cried about your boss yelling at you while watching a puppy chase a ball?  You simply can NOT do it.  Let your pup help you deal with your life.  (They say smiles are contagious amongst us humans….well, I think happiness is contagious and can jump from species to species.)

Good luck achieving those 2012 resolutions.  To summarize this post…and life as I know it:  everything is easier, better, and more fun with a dog.