'Pets Ride Free' promo is special treat for dog lovers

If you love traveling with your dog, and that means taking the train, you're in luck! To celebrate the new release of The Secret Lives of Pets, tickets booked on Amtrak December 6 - 11th will allow your best buddy to ride for free. Woo woooooooo!

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Universal City, California, November 29, 2016 – Riding the rails with a beloved four-legged friend will come with an extra special treat during this holiday season, in which “Pets Ride Free.” Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) and Amtrak are teaming up for a first of its kind promotion in celebration of the December 6 home entertainment release of Illumination’s blockbuster film, The Secret Life of Pets. The “Pets Ride Free” offer, available for trips booked December 6 through December 11, 2016 or while supplies last, allows pets to ride at no additional cost on participating Amtrak routes from December 9 through March 31, 2017.

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Open the book "UNCONDITIONAL: Older Dogs, Deeper Love" and feel your heart soar!

I have been writing about dogs for awhile now, from the perspective of a passionate advocate, and as a guardian. For quite a few years, I have been talking about the many ways old dogs are important, and how they enrich our lives from first hand experiences with my own dog. This year I have been volunteering each week with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

You can understand why I was excited to get a chance to review the book, UNCONDITIONAL: Older Dogs, Deeper Love, by Jane Sobel Klonsky. If you haven't had the chance to have your life enriched by an older dog, the heartfelt words and images in this book could possibly send you straight to your closest rescue or shelter!

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If you have known the love and companionship like I have from a senior sweetheart, be prepared for a rush of warmth straight to your heart, as you go down memory lane. 

And get ready to shed a few tears. This is probably the longest I have taken to review a book filled mostly with pictures. I probably averaged four to six pages, or about three dog portraits, between tissues.

You can't help but shed a few happy tears witnessing the deep, heartfelt love on these pages.

Jane has done a wonderful job of illustrating why I love celebrating how the human-dog bond is demonstrated by dogs, and those who love them, across Grouchy Puppy. This poignant collection of essays and beautiful photos is a celebration of the special bond shared in each relationship.

If you want to introduce what it means to have a dog to a young person, get this magical book. If like me, you already love old dogs the most, then these portraits and essays will remind you why caring about old dogs is important. You get to write the chapter in their life!

For everyone else curious about why dogs, and older dogs are the best, let me share eight reasons, some described in this book, to open your heart to an older dog:

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Guest Post: What it was like moving with my three beloved greyhounds from the US to renting in the UK

We are a nation of dog lovers. There are so many of us that we influence our communities, businesses and animal welfare laws for the better. Compared to a decade ago, we can practically take our dogs with us everywhere now. Soon it will become natural for us to take our dogs with us when we decide it’s time to move into a senior living facility.

When I read an article about the U.K. moving away from its own status as a nation of dog lovers, I thought that it was a good topic to pose to the Grouchy Puppy community on Facebook for comment. One responded with a perspective of being a recent ex-pat to the U.K. with three greyhounds. Because I believe in the positive influence from sharing our personal experiences, I asked Cindi if she’d share a series of guest posts on what it was like for her to move from the US with her dogs, and to answer some questions about what life is like for dog lovers there.

I hope people will learn a little from Cindi's experiences about life across the pond as a renter with big dogs. Take it away Cindi...

The condensed version of my move to the U.K. was, gee, get everyone their vaccinations, ship the dogs over, rent an apartment, pay the pet deposits and easy peasy, right? WRONG. SO. WRONG. When I first moved to Scotland, the entire process brought me to tears several times. I should also point out, large-scale apartment complexes do not exist here like they do in the U.S. For example, you may have a big high-rise building in your city, but only 50% are rented out by agencies or private landlords. Most rentals here are private apartments (more akin to condos) or homes rented out by property management companies on behalf of private landlords. How did all my friends with dogs in various parts of the U.K. do it? 

 

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Evie checking out her new neighbourhood in Scotland [Photo: C. Patterson]

No Pets. No Children. No Families.
Why was I having so much difficulty? Granted, I have big dogs (60-80 lb. range) but it shouldn’t be so hard, right? Apartment and houses alike always had the dreaded words “no pets” in the advertisement. But in a bit of comeuppance, it was equally gratifying to see homes and apartments advertised as “no children” or “no families” meaning they would only rent to professional singles or couples. I was also lucky and in a position to pay 6-12 months of my rent up-front (and as a foreigner, many landlords required this as well) as a bargaining chip to allow my dogs. After some desperation, I used social media to my advantage and lamented my plight to a local reporter, who called me when I was still in the U.S., about the lack of housing (and affordable housing) for pet owners. Thankfully, this article ended up being published, and I was able to use it in “selling” myself to potential landlords!

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Serial senior dog adopters stay focused on happy times together even after unexpected loss

I believe strongly in the power older dogs have for enriching our lives. Opening your heart and home to senior dogs is worth the inevitable future loss. Why? That answer varies for many of us, but it could be simply that you appreciate quality over quantity. I learned this from experiences with my beloved dog. After she passed on, I miss her but the feeling of gratitude I have for the quality of time we had together overwhelms any sadness.

When a loved one passes away, their loss can knock you for a loop, even when they are showing signs their time with you is coming to a close. Imagine the devastation when two loved ones unexpectedly go within days of each other? That recently happened to long time senior dog lovers and adopters, Karl and Jessica.

If you missed them, I recommend you read their three guest posts from earlier this year, about their senior dog journey: It started with Tara, Continued with Bobo and Jameson, and their journey is Destined to Continue.

Karl and Jessica shared their sudden loss in an email, which they graciously allow me to share below. I hope you'll read it and take away the message of how the enrichment you get from caring for and about older dogs, far outweighs any pain.

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An update to our Senior Dog Journey

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Clifford the Big Red Dog® teaches children important pet care in new book series

It's never too early to learn kindness and compassion towards each other, and for animals. Young children are often first exposed to animals through their first toy dog or stuffed bear. As they begin to learn reading skills and watch educational programming, it's a good time to show them the differences between the pretend care of their toy and real caregiving for their family dog.

Having a young child aware of what it means to care for another living creature, especially a beloved family pet, can help grow their empathy. A very popular children's character has been tapped to help educate youngsters in a new book series. 

Bayer Animal Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Carey
Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP Images for Bayer Animal Health

Bayer Animal Health has partnered with the iconic storybook character Clifford the Big Red Dog to create custom “Clifford Goes to the Doctor” books, which features tips for families to prevent bites from fleas, ticks and mosquitos which can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease and Ehrlichia, also known as companion vector-borne diseases (CVBD).

To celebrate the limited-edition book, Bayer Animal Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Carey joined Clifford at a local elementary school in Miami, FL to read the book to first graders and share important pet care tips.

Clifford Book Cover
Bayer Animal Health also donated more than 1,600 copies of “Clifford Goes to the Doctor” to elementary schools throughout the Miami-Dade School District.

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Why tick prevention medication and regular vetting of dogs is important

We live in San Francisco and had a dog who wasn't interested in going for hikes on local trails or up Mt. Tam. She loved a good neighborhood walk, and as a youngster, an afternoon at the beach or in the park. While we weren't terribly worried about her picking up ticks, we watched over her closely for fleas. We used a topical flea and tick medication every month that could penetrate her thick Husky-Shepherd neck fur. We also gave her monthly heart worm tablets.

Though we didn't like the idea of applying chemicals on our dog, we knew prevention was important and better than the alternative. In her final years, when she'd stopped going further than around the block, we stopped the topical flea and tick medication, and separate heart worm pill. We switched her to a tablet that offered flea control, heart worm protection and warded off intestinal parasites.

Unfortunately every year 1 in 79 dogs test positive for tick borne illnesses such Lyme Disease. Umbecca, a reader of the blog and our Facebook page shared this important story about a Catahoula dog named Ruger. I hope you'll read it and that it helps you understand better why our pets need to be protected from all nature of parasites.

Why tick prevention medication and regular vetting of dogs is important

Ruger was pulled by Janeen's Catahoula Rescue from the SPCA in Fresno, where he was turned in as a stray, with a plan to go directly to Oregon.  His vet check revealed that he has tick borne illnesses Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. He is currently in temporary foster care in California until he is well enough to travel. If you are interested in helping fund his medical or travel expenses, following his progress, or adopting him after he is well, scroll to the bottom for more information.

This is Ruger's story:

Ruger

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Dog Walks in the City: My Top 4 Dog Walks + Finding Murals Featuring Canines

Is this a wolf in leopard-unicorn clothing rather than sheep? A treat walking in San Francisco, with or without a dog, is our many murals

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You find yourself surprised again, and again, with what people draw on buildings, or next to a window. The Mission District has many large and colorful drawings along alleys that are wonderful. Each week you can find a new piece of art, and this summer I've been seeing more organized walking tours taking visitors to the best exhibitions.

Not having my dog Cleo to take on walks, I enjoy coming across these various murals featuring canines. I feel like strangers are reminding me how much this city loves dogs. They are as fascinated by the different shapes and personalities of dogs as I am. These are often unexpected visual reminders on my walks that tell me I made the right choice all those years ago to call San Francisco home. 

Though I currently don't walk or hike some of my favorite city trails as often as I did with my dog, here are four of my favorite places to take a dog in the city:

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7 Tips to keep your furry loved ones safe during summer fun and fireworks

Keeping our pets safe during the summer months means watching out for hazards like toxic herbicides on the grass, knowing the signs of heat stroke, avoiding discarded chicken bones from barbecues and protecting lost dogs fleeing from fireworks.

With summer concerts and festivals in full swing, please remember your four-legged family members. Celebrating July 4th with family and friends is a wonderful tradition and holiday, however in the excitement of your first sparkler, don't forget your dog.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

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Warning! Happy pit bull spotted in local park

Just call me a fool for any happy dog who is dying to show you the ball they so cleverly caught at the park.

Warning! Happy pit bull spotted in local park. Proceed with caution, or you'll find yourself late for work because said dog will convince you to throw the ball for her.

This sweet pit bull girl came running up while we were admiring the view from Bernal Heights in San Francisco. She jumped up on the bench in front us to be sure we didn't miss her "show and tell" performance too. 

image www.grouchypuppy.com

Best kind of strangers!

I may never have met this dog before but with her happy face, and incorrigible demeanor, she is no stranger to a animal lover. Am I right?

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The Five Myths of Having a Senior Dog

Three years ago, while looking across the room at my old dog, I had five fast responses to anyone fearful of loving a senior dog pop into my head. Reading through them this weekend, I still think they hold up and make good examples of why you should never let your fear of heartbreak prevent you from having an old dog in your life.

After our Cleo passed late last year, I have had many encounters with older dogs and each time they made me laugh and shake my head at these myths. 

Some people think having an old dog is the opposite of fun. I beg to differ with them. 

Check out these five myth-busters:

Myth 1. They're boring.

Fact: How can you be bored when you have this face around keeping you in stitches?

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Myth 2. They're expensive.

Fact: We eat the same foods as she does, only minus the kibble. Even her pills are delivered via high-grade liverwurst that we share.

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Why do we love old dogs? Have you seen Kiki yet?

There are many sweet senior dogs who are blind like Kiki who show us that you don't need eyes to live.

 

Well, that's one way to sleep in a bed. #shibainu #noeyesnoproblem

A photo posted by Lisa (@dogoverload) on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:59am PST

My own dog lost her vision but navigated very well for years. Being surrounded by people who loved her kept her sassy personality front and center. I think she even slept like Kiki at times.

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My dog is living and sentient, not a wagon wheel coffee table

The time has come for every state to let go of defining dogs as property. Remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Carrie Fisher is fighting with Bruno Kirby over a wagon wheel coffee table? That ugly table is property, the blue plate in Billy Crystal's hand is property, a dog is not.

image from blog.oup.com

Resolving pet custody disputes. Should a dog be considered property, if we are finding more court cases of people getting awarded visitation rights? 

Case law from the United States shows that two distinct tests have emerged to resolving pet custody disputes: firstly, the application of pure property law principles as discussed above; and secondly, the application of a ‘best interests of the animal’ test which has similarities to the ‘best interests of the child’ test used in many countries to determine the residency of children in disputes between parents. On the whole, the courts in the United States have used the property law test and rejected the ‘best interest of the animal’ test. However, in a growing number of cases the courts have been reluctant to rely solely on property law principles. 

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The pivotal scene of "that's mine, this is yours"

 

How do you feel about dogs being legally defined as property, like a toaster?

 

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Sweet Senior Girl: After Our Dog’s Diabetes Diagnosis

Four years ago I heard about diabetic alert dogs from Dee Bogetti. I knew how common it was for dogs to be diagnosed with Cushing's disease, but until my dog's own diagnosis, I really had no idea dogs could many older dogs become diabetic.

The Grey Muzzle Organization asked me to share our story about what life was like with an older diabetic dog. The following is a little about how we discovered her diabetes, and how we adjusted our life to keep our sweet girl living as vibrant a life as possible.

One lesson that still remains huge for me is how much our time together mirrored my diabetic father's experiences. I will be forever grateful to my sweet senior dog for opening my eyes to the similarities between her life with diabetes and my elderly father's. Thank you Cleo.

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Read more about how we handled our dog's diabetes diagnosis [...]

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