10 uplifting words you will surely find in your vocabulary thanks to 🐶 dogs

Celebrating our Grouchy Puppy ten year anniversary has gotten us to stop and take a look at how dogs have positively influenced us over the past decade. When I look around at the dog books I have read, and the different dogs I have met, what came to me were the many words that have entered my vocabulary because of them. Between the dog books and the actual dogs, there are words that I find myself using every single day.

Have you ever stopped and thought about how a dog (or dogs) can influence you? It was only when I was considering how dogs have influenced me over the last ten years did I pick up on this vocabulary theme. I looked over old blog posts and other pieces, and saw certain words used over and over.

Image from grouchypuppy.com

When I look at the thousands of photos from the oldsters at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue that are still on my phone, these same words come to mind. Our encounters in the doggy loft inspire a word cloud in my head that I hadn’t recognized until now.

What stands out to me, that was a pleasant surprise, was how uplifting the words were. It is pretty wonderful to see how ten years focused on writing about dogs and volunteering with old dogs, had caused this set of uplifting words to become a part of my vocabulary.

Since we are closing out the year, and the decade, I thought it would be fun to share a top ten list. In no particular order, below are ten words regularly found in my vocabulary thanks to dogs. Do they look familiar to you? How have dogs influenced you over the years? Are there words you find yourself using more frequently that may have been introduced because of a dog?

10 words that you will surely find in your vocabulary (I hope!) thanks to a dog (in no particular order)

Inspiration

Love

Gratitude

Hope

Warmth

Optimism

Motivation

Smile

Goodness

Joy

What do you think? How many of these words do you use daily? What other words come to mind that we missed?

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Thoughts about old dogs, and a few special dog stories from 2019

As 2019 closes, I’d like to share a few dog stories from the doggy loft I visit every week on Rescue Row, in San Francisco. From my earliest years, dogs have been my favorite teachers, and best friends. This year, I’m particularly thankful for the optimistic attitude of dogs, in addition to their ability to be both simultaneously silly and affectionate. If I’m being honest, I’m still recovering from the massive invasion we had during the summer from Boston Terriers. Mostly though, I have finished many a volunteer shift with the oldsters feeling more inspired and calm than when I started. 

Enjoy these dog stories, and at the end, I’ve added a short list of inspired thoughts that came from another year helping in the doggy loft. Please share your own in the comments, and any special dog moments from your year, I’d love to read them - Sharon Castellanos 

Ay Chihuahua! Since I began volunteering in the doggy loft at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue three years ago, I have met more chihuahuas than I can count! They have been funny, scrappy, scared, fluffy, fat, skinny, silly, and shy. Boys and girls have expressed patience, frustration, crankiness and an unstoppable flow of affection. One little lady I met in January this year, Ginger Rogers, grabbed my attention and compassion all at once. She began her time with Muttville wanting attention while being left alone. She’d snap at people and other dogs alike if she felt like it. But she also could make you laugh out loud. I was on hand to help feed her breakfast several times and she would take turns eating, and lifting her tiny lip to snarl at me. When she was done, I would often be offered her butt for a brief soft scratch. This exchange brought me so much joy.

7A7DE3E0-A79A-4F22-A7CD-3F735FD96DD6

Seeing her figure out how to be close to me, to show me her version of affection so soon, was heartwarming. Over many months, Ginger slowly blossomed, in her own unique way. I was on the receiving end of several tiny kisses, and a quick snuggle or three, before she fell in love with a member of the Muttville staff and went home. I’m so thankful she found a place like Muttville filled with people who gave her the chance and space to shed her worries and welcome in all the love and care she deserved.

A66197FA-E792-407E-8716-8E5277F1CD5C

Fluffy dogs come in all makes and models. Having had the experience of living with, loving and caring for a small dinosaur, also known as a shepherd husky dog, I never really knew what Pomeranians, miniature poodles, papillons or corgis were all about. We get many of these dogs or blended fluffy versions coming through the doggy loft. Who knew fluffy dogs came in so many types and sizes? What has been a gift this year is getting a chance to experience these dogs. You get some really beautiful examples of true sugar faces from the darker fluffs. Also, I can’t tell you some of the funny expressions on these dogs faces just because of a little contrasting hair! If you ever watched Seinfeld, I’m describing some dogs who could give Uncle Leo’s eyebrows a run for their money. My dog had three layers of fur to shed, which gave me a chance to use many different types of grooming tools. I am happy to report that I have been fortunate enough to get a chance to have my share of brushing parties this year after breakfast, with many satisfied customers.

E9DCD431-6F27-4A13-B772-C53A5C87FED2

The blind and wobbly. How endearing is it to have a dog get up and teeter over for some love from a stranger, first thing in the morning? I am astonished every morning I walk into the doggy loft and a blind or vision impaired dog works their way towards the sound of my voice and greetings. I mean sure, the smell of breakfast or the sound of metal food bowl would be one sure way to get any dog’s attention, but a loud lady chirping “good morning” and “how did you sleep” to mostly dogs she has never met, is a crap shoot for getting a blind dog to respond. All year I have been thankful for periodic reminders from these dogs to never give up, to persevere and to keep my sense of humor. They show me how to live each day to the fullest, and taking it slow is not a bad idea or anything to be embarrassed about. I love their joyful expressions, and appreciate their fierce displays of optimism!

7CF680B2-54EB-413B-B158-03B3475BC8A9

I am reminded this year that dogs are still one of my favorite sources of life lessons! Here are some thoughts and inspiration gained from dog encounters (mostly in the doggy loft) in 2019:

- Dogs are really good at teaching you how to take every ounce of compassion and affection that crosses your path.

- These incredible companions of ours show us what is important, and to move towards your goals one small step at a time.

- No matter how old or impaired you get, never lose your sense of humor!

- Don’t let distractions, like the sounds and smells of other dogs, get in your way. 

- Even if you can’t see exactly where you are going, keeping moving forward.

Oh, also naps are your friend, and learn to delete really old dog photos from your smartphone because no one needs over 15,000 of them at any given time.

B8496832-E85F-40FF-9156-277810794121

A final inspiring note from 2019: This adorable fluff came into Muttville and immediately showed us all why senior dogs really do rule. If you get a chance, stop by their website, visit them in person, or subscribe to their newsletter. You will read more dog stories and discover more about how to live life to the fullest by these sweet sugar faces and grey muzzles.

 

 

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Why adopt an older dog? Let’s start with these eight reasons...

Have you ever wondered why senior dogs really do rule? Are you curious about what life would be like if you adopted an older dog? Have no fear, we have a list for that!

8F45BB67-CF62-4141-A218-594AFCB1F547
Here are some of our favorite reasons why having a senior dog is like fast-forwarding to the best part:

  • You get to write their last chapter
  • No puppy teething!
  • They are more likely to mirror the pace and pattern of your life
  • It can feel like getting a chance to love and live with your grandparents
  • They’re grown! What you see is most likely what you get
  • You have a greater sense at the start what medical and dental care will be
  • Older dogs are more willing and able to pay attention than puppies
  • They communicate directly and without hesitation what they want or need

There so many ways an older dog is perfect for city life or ensconced in the suburbs. With age comes clarity. Older dogs have less desire for the hectic or chaotic which is a wonderful respite these days. 

What makes senior dogs so perfect is how much love they have to give. They have a lifetime of love to offer, and in return you get the chance to remind them what compassion and empathy feels like. 

Please consider adopting a senior dog, and if you can’t, then look into volunteering at your local shelter. Discover what is so special about older dogs, and how time spent with them is just perfect.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Did you know senior dogs have a lifetime of ❤️ love to give?

When you get caught up worrying about the future, there is a dog for that. Consider adopting a senior dog. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how much an older dog can get you to forget about the future and focus on the present.

C010E76B-AC9F-4FA0-BA65-63ED7DE9AD44

Older dogs are often skilled at embracing the best of each day. They have a roadmap for navigating the noise of life that I appreciate very much. More than ever.

If you could use a little furry yogi. If you need a distraction from the constant news streaming in front of your eyes, and in your ears. Consider adding a senior dog to your life.

Adopt from, or volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue. There will be an older dog ready to show you the many reasons why senior dogs really do rule.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Why older dogs? Imagine the experience of reminding them they’re loved 💞

Something I have discovered with adoptable senior dogs is the incredible feeling I get reminding these pups that people love them. That they are worthy of love, just give us humans a chance to show them.

746CE547-8DC6-439A-86DC-714A32409639

What I love about dogs is their ability to “let it go” as Elsa would sing. Who else do you know that can do this, at any age? Physically, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a big hefty dog “trust fall” over onto you for some belly rubs! My human family has to say their peace, and talk a blue streak, before they can come close to letting anything go. Our family dogs on the other hand, how fast can you say, “want to go for a walk?”

Trust Fall

There is something extra special about older dogs who are in need of love. It’s heartbreaking to see any older adoptable dog shut down. If I see an oldster in the doggy loft of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue with body language that says their love tank is on empty, then it will be my mission to take steps to lift their spirits before my volunteer shift is over.

Continue reading "Why older dogs? Imagine the experience of reminding them they’re loved 💞" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Celebrating dog adoption, big adult dogs, and a Grouchy Puppy muse

On the fifth anniversary of her passing, and ten years after we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, I’ve written a letter to my Grouchy Puppy muse. November is a big month here. November is Adopt A Senior Dog Month, in addition to these two auspicious anniversaries. Dog adoption, and adopting a big adult dog in the city changed my life in such a profound way, it felt right to send a virtual thank you to the shepherd husky responsible. 

Dear Cleo:

Thank you. It has been five years since you went on ahead, and though we miss you every single day, I have gained so much insight about people and dogs since your passing.

Image from GrouchyPuppy.com
Best Big Dog Ambassador Ever

I am so grateful we chose to adopt you. Our life together forever positively changed my views on dogs, what you can expect from life with a dog, and I realize that loss is not something to avoid or be afraid of.

Continue reading "Celebrating dog adoption, big adult dogs, and a Grouchy Puppy muse" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Gaining an older dog’s trust is slow but I am in no hurry 🍂

What’s amazing about adopting a old dog is the experience of gaining their trust.

There is something special, almost sacred about gaining someone else’s trust. When that someone is an old adoptable dog, the experience is out of this world. It can be life changing for both dog and person.

From my first meeting with an old dog in the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue doggy loft, I observe their manner. I watch each dog for signs of interest, or aloofness. I love these old timers but I am in no hurry or rush. No one wants to be overwhelmed when they are in a new place. My job as a volunteer, and as a human being is to remind these sugar faces that they are in a good place. We are on their side.

1A9D4413-3B13-4387-B87D-F7BF1B70F57C

Continue reading "Gaining an older dog’s trust is slow but I am in no hurry 🍂" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Imagine how your life can change for the better when you adopt a dog

When you start thinking about having a dog in your life, it can be a simple decision, or a consuming series of scenarios. Having a dog is life changing. From your daily routine shifting to center around being, to your Instagram filling up with photos documenting every new experience together. I can still remember adopting my first dog from the San Francisco SPCA.

It helped me to have previous experience with dogs from my childhood, but not by that much in all honesty. The world is a different place from the 1970s and I found everything I needed in the dog community. The benefit to social media and to us being a nation of dog lover is that it didn’t take long for me to find answers to my initial questions, to find supplies, to learn about how to take care of a dog in the city.

Deciding to adopt a dog from a shelter turned into the best, and biggest decision I had made since deciding to get married. Seriously. I really felt everything shift around me after we brought our dog home from Rescue Row on that rainy fall night. Who knew in a few short years our life together would inspire the creation of Grouchy Puppy? I didn’t, but I did embrace wholeheartedly our new life and tried to live in the moment with her.

She introduced me to experiences that no one else can. Our dog human relationship was based on respect, and fellowship. We had our own girl club. As months went by, we learned about each other and probably unsurprising to dog behaviorists, we supported other. Receiving compassion from a dog is a unique experience.

D362CA16-9C0A-4F14-9F53-185236209FDF

Our time together has informed my life ever since. When I walk into the doggy loft at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and meet a dog like Midnight, I am reminded of my girl. I can feel the pull from Midnight to spend time with her, to understand her, to appreciate her. Every dog is unique and individual. It is our job to uncover and celebrate their qualities. I can tell you from my experience that when you embrace a dog for who they are, life gets better. Your life together glows brighter. They share even more secrets and magical life lessons with you!

When you choose to adopt a shelter dog give them extra. Give them extra love, and time to get to know you. Give them extra patience to learn how to live in their new life with you. Give them extra reasons to trust you. When you set them up for success, when you trust they are doing their best, that their intentions are pure, your heart will thank you. Your life will glow with goodness and light. A dog who believes in you will only make you a better person.

Midnight reminded me of all these things in our short time together. Imagine what you can learn, how your life can change for the better when you decide to adopt a shelter dog?

Learn more about Midnight, a beautiful adoptable from Muttville: https://muttville.org/mutt/midnight-6052

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


My big beautiful reward from a pit bull dog

One of the reasons volunteering at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue is worthwhile for me is the education I receive. Each week there is a lesson related to dogs, palliative care for old dogs, myths about dog breeds, or what life is like with a dog.

Last week, I was reminded about how easy it is to make assumptions when around pit bull type dogs. A very sweet old lady, Gemma, was in the doggy loft when I arrived for my morning shift. She’s a big girl with a steady gaze. I blinked first.

7EBBC0D0-BD75-4697-8543-12A4A2424E6B

I love all dogs and it surprised me that I reacted to her with even a millisecond of nervousness. My verbal greeting was met with a hoarse bark but no wagging tail when I arrived. With her block head and solid body, I wasn’t sure how to engage with her.

Continue reading "My big beautiful reward from a pit bull dog" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Reasons why we should love old dogs

Why do I love old dogs so much? This is a fair question given how popular puppies always are. While I have nothing against puppies they are just not for me. Their high energy and constant need for education and monitoring is exhausting. I love all dogs very much which is why puppies keep me in a constant state of worry over their development and care. By the very fact they are in this stage of growth, any mistakes or bad habits they develop thanks to me, are mine to deal with at a later date.

Given all that described potential stress, you might guess that I have never had children or been a school teacher. I’m also the youngest amongst my siblings so my supervision skills are strictly based on managing a few people, or the occasional project at work, not the best skill set for taking on the responsibility of a puppy. However, older dogs are a whole different beast. To begin with, there is my absolute love for the oldsters.

B4A3D0B5-7597-4026-85CD-B9FE61D03BAA

Having experienced my own dog going through her golden years, the affection I feel for seniors is deep. Spending weekly volunteer shifts at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has confirmed my love for the sugar faces is not limited to my own dog. Big ones, little ones, blind ones, deaf ones, three-legged ones, terminal ones, I absolutely love all these old dogs, and I am here to tell you why!

Continue reading "Reasons why we should love old dogs" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Muttville Cuddle Club: Where Older Dogs Give Love Get Love(d) by Seniors

There are more older people who are life long dog lovers than ever before! These folks are positively influencing senior facilities and retirement centers to accept dogs either as residents, or at least as regular visitors, and I’m here for it!

Another important issue is that as we age, a dog lover may reach a point when they can’t take care of a dog, but they still enjoy giving and getting the canine affection. They intrinsically appreciate the human dog bond.

A very sweet way to access the love and affection from a dog is cuddling and for those in the San Francisco Bay Area, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue offers Cuddle Club!

 

Continue reading "Muttville Cuddle Club: Where Older Dogs Give Love Get Love(d) by Seniors" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


It ain’t easy being a big adoptable older dog

Given my personal experiences, I might have to confess to having a special place in my heart for adoptable big older dogs.

The bigger the dog, the bigger the love? For some of us, it sure can feel like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks when you feel the love and affection and attention from a big dog like Hamilton or Nikki. When they gaze into your eyes you want to always have the right answer to their questions. If they want to go for a walk, you want to say yes. If they want a little taste of your hotdog, you want to say yes.

Thank you Muttville

When I learned that the guardian for Hamilton and Nikki passed away, which is how they found their way to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, I felt a rush of compassion for this pair of big dogs. They are big hunks of love and they know how to engage with people.  

The morning when I arrived at the doggy loft, and took these photos, I laughed when I saw how Hamilton convinced multiple volunteers to take him for walks, while Nikki napped and lazily greeted newcomers with big head butts of fluffy affection and tail wags.

EBD2F980-5808-48B4-9051-BC33B587E169

They had thoroughly worked their magic on us all. Now they are in loving homes but their story is a wonderful example of how, even in the big city, giving a big dog another chance at a loving home is worth it.

EE5C864C-0847-47BD-8D44-0B56E9DB8C9F

Thank you Muttville Senior Dog Rescue for stepping up for these big older dogs, who still had a lot to share with us humans about why dogs make life better, and why yes, sometimes the bigger the dog the bigger and heavier the loving affection.

My big dog may have crossed over but these encounters are wonderful reminders of why we fell in love with her and what an incredible opportunity she gave us. I’m still grateful for her many lessons and experiences together, unique to life with a small dinosaur.

If you get a chance to have a big adopted dog in your life, I hope you’ll consider it.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Dog lovers in Denmark and Danish “hygge”

To many of us, actually millions of people according to trade associations, dogs mean everything. We love them more than most people. We spend more on our dogs than we do on ourselves. We care about their wellbeing and spend tons of time and money making sure they live their best lives with us. After spending a week in Denmark recently, I can confirm the Danish feel this way too.

661F67F2-06E9-41EF-BE39-997E9DEE1809

Last month, I went to Copenhagen and experienced the best of Scandinavia. Spring was beginning with longer hours of blue skies, fewer wool layers, and many people riding their bikes with their dogs! I saw dogs on walks, in cars, inside department stores, and at cafe tables. I even watched one wait patiently until his person returned from having a drink inside a bar. 

3B0A8011-3B29-47A1-B13F-B73D46B88901

Continue reading "Dog lovers in Denmark and Danish “hygge”" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Lessons learned from dogs and my biggest mistake made I still feel guilty about

Have you ever done something to a dog, that years later, you still feel bad about? Maybe the biggest mistake I made when we adopted our first dog was six months after we first brought her home. I can still remember every detail and this moment happened over ten years ago. All I can say is, thank goodness dogs don’t hold grudges, and are predisposed to living in the moment. Sure, I can make excuses to let myself off the hook but I decided it was better to focus on learning from the experience and appreciate her ability to teach me such an important lesson.

The short version of this story is that I assumed (yep, big mistake right there) that because we’d only had adopted her six months ago, and because she was a dog, staying with another dog, in the home of a dog trainer, that she wouldn’t miss us. I was wrong. Very wrong. I didn’t know that she could, or would, bond that quickly with us.

85E71DB0-35E4-4373-A1C4-F9FBE4163B98

Continue reading "Lessons learned from dogs and my biggest mistake made I still feel guilty about" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!


Captain America 🇺🇸 is ideal narrator for Superpower Dogs movie!

Wonderful dog lover and sometime Captain America, Chris Evans will be narrating  Superpower Dogs, a series of stories about some of the world’s most incredible dogs! The trailer below has a few highlights but if you’re like me, smitten with the secret powers of dogs already, and probably know a few dogs worthy of the title “hero” ...then grab a tissue.
 
BC3A1401-F0B7-4D2C-A425-14A1375594F3
 
With soaring music that sets the tone of heroic feats ahead for these canine crusaders, the trailer with Captain America’s voice, had me a bit weepy. I can’t wait for March when the movie comes out in IMAX theatres. There are only quick highlights and a few slow motion super hero clips in the trailer, but I spotted the Italian Coastguard Newfoundlands and several known search and rescue teams! Who else is excited that these amazing groups (often all-volunteer) are getting this well-deserved attention?
 
Watch for yourself and if you’ve a dog at home, give them some extra love and gratitude for being your best friend. They may be more of a couch warrior but their ability to give fearlessly is as real as the dogs in this movie.
 
Watch the official trailer and experience the superpowers and extraordinary bravery of some of the world’s most remarkable dogs:


(Photo above is screen grab from trailer)
 

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!