Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cyber Sunday: Links I Love

We have really been having an awesome few weeks!  After purchasing our first home, Jared and I have been having fun making plans for each room.  My job as a library director is incredibly fulfilling, and my little pet sitting side business is picking up like crazy!  (You can like my Facebook page here - I share lots of cute dog photos!  :)  Jen DeHaan of Dogthusiast designed my cover photo, isn't she awesome?!)

And for your Black & White Sunday viewing pleasure, here is a sneak peek of the transport we did today!  I will be posting more about it later this week :)

And these are the links I loved most in July:

Kol's Notes always has delicious-looking recipes for your pup, and this cheese ice cream recipe is no exception!  Looks pretty simple too, and such a great idea for the summer months.

I LOVE this blog, and this post brought me to tears.  Jake has had a bit of a rough time adjusting after the death of his big brother Melvin, but this post is all about why his mama will never give up on him <3

It's always nice to read posts about shelter animals that are uplifting rather than depressing.  Talent Hounds recently shared this wonderful roundup of shelter dogs who make a difference.  Click on over and smile!

This craft kit for kids is a very cute take on paper dolls - paper dogs and clothes to dress them up in!  I have a feeling my niece would love this :)

This dog bed is not in my budget, but I am so in love!  It's covered in words - one of my favorite quotes from the Velveteen Rabbit:  "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."   Beautiful!  Jared is loving this baseball mitt dog bed from the Martha Stewart line at PetSmart.  I have to agree - it's pretty darn adorable!  We saw it in the store today but can't find it on the site. :(

Buzzfeed posted an awesome roundup of books about animals...they missed my personal favorite (Cowboy & Wills by Monica Holloway), but there's TONS of great reads on the list.

HeARTs Speak is an organization of artists doing good for shelter animals; they just put out a guide to photographing shelter dogs that looks super helpful!  I'm not very good at photography, but it's definitely something I would like to work on - I'd love to photograph adoptable pets!

Is this hilarious or what?!  Dogster recently featured the work of illustrator Josh Lynch; my personal favorite was this Pug/Spiderman!  So funny :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When is it Okay to Give Up Your Pet?

You hear a lot of things when you work in rescue.  Some of those things warm your heart, make you believe in people again.  Most of those things, though, frustrate the hell out you.  Make you want to tear your heart out by the roots and scream, "What is wrong with you?!?!" at the unsuspecting person across the counter.  (I just had a flashback of working in retail.  That's a special kind of frustration all its own!)

You hear things like, "I adopted this dog from you last year, but I need to bring her back.  We're expecting a baby."  And, "My cat keeps peeing outside of her litter box, so I want to surrender her to the shelter."  Or what about, "We're moving to a place that doesn't allow pets"?  Or, my personal favorite, "We just don't have time for him anymore."


Now.  Guys.  I understand that sometimes it's unavoidable.  Sometimes your (my) husband is allergic and asthmatic, and you (I) have to choose between keeping your (my) cat/dog or keeping your (my) husband alive.  (Hardest choice I ever made!)  And sometimes your pet bites your child.  And, yes, sometimes it is the right decision for your pet to have another home.

But many times there is a solution.  If you must move, only look at places that will allow your beloved pet!  If you are expecting a child, do your research - your dog will probably adjust to the new addition just fine.  There are places that will help you with low-cost veterinary care and free pet food if you are short on money.  There are also sitters who will care for and play with your pet while you are at work if you're short on time.

Giving your pet up to a shelter should be the last resort.  (It also needs to be said that you should never, ever post your pet on Craigslist.  Or, honestly, those Facebook "giveaway" pages.  Just don't do it.)

(Also, at least act sad or regretful when you're surrendering what is basically your family member to a shelter.  Just a little bit.  Please?  It's one thing to give up your cat if you tell it goodbye with tears in your eyes.  It's completely another if you surrender your Border Collie puppy for chewing things in your house, and then you walk out the door with a smile and arms up, touchdown-style, saying "Free at last!")  (Did that sound like an oddly specific example?  That's because it is an actual thing that I experienced.  UGH.)

When it comes right down to it, when is it okay to give up your pet?  Well...when you feel you have no other choice.  When it breaks your heart to do it.  I guess it all depends on personal circumstance.

But I want to hear what you think?  When do you think it is okay to give up your pet?  I would love some discussion in the comments!  I would also love to know the "excuse" that most frustrates you?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Promise 4 Paws Senior Dog Sanctuary

By now, you've all seen the viral video about the retirement home for dogs located in Maryland.  (And I'm sure you, like me, reached for the tissues when they talked about the "Stairway to Heaven"...)  Shortly after I watched this video for the first time, my husband and I took a day trip to Omaha to celebrate my birthday.  And we stumbled upon a place very similar to the video...and basically, guys, it's where I would like to live for the rest of my life.

Whenever I go on trips, I do a lot of Googling in the weeks prior.  Usually, I search for bookstores and animal shelters, and on the Omaha trip, I struck gold!  I found an organization called "Promise 4 Paws Senior Dog Sanctuary" located near Council Bluffs, Iowa.  There wasn't much information about it online, but we hoped for the best and headed there anyway.  I'm so glad we did!

3 of the 4 dogs on this couch are blind...and all so very sweet!

This place was my version of heaven.  25 dogs, all between ages 8 and 18, with a house all to themselves.  Most of the dogs had a few health issues (many were blind, incontinent, missing teeth, etc.), but man, were those dogs happy.  You could really tell that they felt safe and comfortable in this environment.

Promise 4 Paws just opened its doors in April, and it's all because of 3 AMAZING women who had a great love for dogs and a dream.  They visited the retirement home in Maryland (of viral video fame), and it inspired them to make their own sanctuary for old dogs.  They managed to raise enough money to purchase a little house for the dogs to live in.  Now, someone is there 24/7, though each of the women have full-time jobs.  They do not get paid, and there are (usually) no adoption fees being brought in, since most of these dogs are not adoptable.  Their money comes solely from donations and fundraisers.

This sweet girl has congestive heart failure and wasn't feeling so well that day :(

I mean...if only all of us could be so selfless, right?

This guy looked just like a black bear...he was my husband's favorite!

Promise 4 Paws only takes in senior dogs that get along well with other dogs, since they are around one another all the time.  There was a bit of growling amongst the Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, but with 25 dogs, that's to be expected.  The house, a cute cottage-like home, was full of oversized couches, chairs, and dog beds, many specially fitted with ramps.  There is always daytime access to a large, fenced-in yard, and at least half of the dogs were sunbathing on a big porch when we arrived.  A long countertop was custom-built to have multiple cubbies along the bottom with dog beds in each - the Chihuahuas love to snuggle inside the cubbies when they want some alone time.  They also, using the wonderful idea from the Maryland retirement home, have a "Stairway to Heaven", putting up photos of the beloved dogs that have already crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

The Pom in the doorway was the resident greeter :)

I have never seen an organization like this before - I wish there were more around!  Visiting Promise 4 Paws was an experience I will never forget, and I hope to go back again and again.  In fact, I wanted to somehow collaborate with a professional photographer and get a piece together about the place, so if you know any photographers in the area, let me know! :)  These photos do NOT do this place justice, and I am positive some amazing moments could be captured :)

One of the residents, probably thinking, "This is the life."  (Photo from Promise 4 Paws Facebook page)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chuck the Former Congressman

I have been keeping up with the blog Dooce since 2007; I was still in high school and absolutely adored Heather, her kids, and of course, her dog Chuck.  I would spend hours on my computer going through her archives and laughing out loud at the things she balanced on Chuck's head - hairpieces, clothing items, and allll kinds of treats.  (All photos from Dooce)

Quite the talent, no?

I read about Heather's daughter's birth (Leta is now 11, I think), and how Chuck reacted to the new arrival.  

And I read about Chuck getting older, then older still.  

And this week I read about Chuck passing away.  I sobbed like it was a member of my own family.  I woke my husband up with my cries.  And even though you will need a package and a half of Kleenex, I beg of and read that link.  What a devastating, heartwrenching, beautiful piece of writing.  

The entire Internet misses you, Chuck.  Rest easy, sweet boy.

PS:  Thank you all for your incredibly thoughtful comments on Monday's post.  Your words help more than you know.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


July has been good to me - my job is amazing (and, for once in my life, feels right), I turned 25 and went on a lovely road trip with my husband, and we purchased our first home.  I have never had more reasons to be happy.

And yet I haven't blogged all month.  I have barely volunteered.  I've even struggled to pick up a book and read.  I'm sorry.

I haven't kept my depression a secret on this blog.  I've even written about it (using some NSFW language - you've been warned!) multiple times on my other blog.  If you've experienced a depressive episode, you know how the past few weeks have been for me.  You're probably familiar with what I think of as "The Fog" - that feeling where you're walking through life like a zombie and everything is covered with that blurry film like in those allergy commercials.  It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.  

It sucks.

"Why are you crying?!" my husband asks.

"I don't know," I sob ridiculously.  And the funny thing is, I really don't know!  I don't know why it's so hard to get out of bed or get into the shower.  I don't know why I forgot how to have fun, and I don't know how to snap out of this funk.

It's getting better, though, so don't worry - I promise there are upbeat posts in my future :)  The Fog is beginning to lift, and, hey, I am writing this post fully dressed, showered, and with makeup on, steps!

Thank you for being here <3

Monday, June 29, 2015

Therapy Dogs Visit the Library

In addition to blogging, volunteering, pet sitting, and substitute teaching, I am also director of our local public library.  (Yes, I wear many hats.  Though I am not nearly as busy as you might think.  I still have time for entirely too much Netflix.)  It's a fairly new job, though my mom is a librarian, so it's a familiar, comfortable environment for me.  One of the most enjoyable parts of being library director is planning fun programs to bring patrons in; this week will be our fourth session of the Summer Reading program for children.

This summer's theme is "Every Hero has a Story", and so far we have focused on superheroes, community heroes like policemen and firefighters, and, my favorite, animal heroes!  For this session, I really wanted to bring in someone with a therapy animal - I knew the kids would love it.  Well, I tracked down a lovely woman named Joyce, and she did me one better - she brought three therapy Shelties named Quick, Pete, and Eve!  I was a little nervous about this program.  I made sure to emphasize staying calm and relaxed, not grabbing for the dogs, and taking turns.  There was a bit of "I want to hold the dog, me!" and one fast movement that startled one of the pups, but overall they did very well.  The Shelties were gorgeous and SO turned out to be an awesome day!  

Joyce had a little presentation all planned out, with tricks and props and everything!  And I was proud of the kids, who came up with some great questions for her.  They also asked Joyce if she knew that dogs could "save people when they are drownding", which made me feel kind of proud since we had read a book earlier in the morning about a dog who did just that. :)  At the end of the session, I mentioned something about next week's program being "the last one" (our library does the program for 4 weeks at the beginning of summer), and one of the boys said, "The last one?!  NO!  Can't you make it go all summer?"  :)  Made the hard work all worth it!

This is Eve, who was by far the most petite of the trio!  She was also the most shy - Joyce explained that while she's wonderful with the elderly, kids are not Eve's favorite.  She did awesome, though...even with all these hands grabbing for her :)

Pete was all about the treats - and he used his sniffer on these tennis balls in a muffin tin... find the treats hidden under a few of them!

Our board president captured this awkward photo of me - I seem to be maniacally grinning about the fact that there's 3 dogs in my library.  I loved Eve so much - she sat beside me so prettily.  (And yes, my shirt does indeed say "Crazy Dog Lady".)

Quick was an expert - only two years old and starting his clicker training, he was on top of all his tricks!  Like sniffing out which box contained a small packet of cloves lightning-fast.  Quick also learned to put both front paws up onto a chair on command, though he had never done that particular trick before that day!

The kids colored, made animal masks, and created their own dog/cat art - I was quite proud of my rainbow French Bulldog collage ;)

Such beautiful and well-trained dogs - we loved having them!

And in keeping with the Sheltie theme today...

This beautiful girl is Prissy.  She is located at Underdog Rescue Minnesota and is 4 years old.  Prissy is sweet but very timid, particularly around strangers; however, she LOVES the outdoors and does great playing with other dogs.  Though she needs a bit of time to get used to someone, she is definitely worth getting to know :)  Please share Prissy's pretty mug on social media and help her find a forever home!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Human, According to Riley

Do you know how to Human?  Well, I do, and I can teach you!  It is very important that us dogs can Human, because one day we will take over.  (It's going to happen for sure.  Have you seen how they go Potty?  They collect it.  In a giant porcelain water bowl - what's up with that?!)  There are many ways for us to Human - sitting upright on the couch (best to save that for when They aren't home), getting to know the neighbors, giving Them meaningful looks when we want something...the list goes on.  But today I'm going to teach you the art of Human Sleep.

Step 1:  Wait until your Mom or Dad gets up to go to the bathroom.  This might take some patience.
Step 2:  When you hear the bathroom door shut, make your move!  Creep up to take the empty place they left behind.  Be careful to move slowly, or you'll wake up whoever else is in the bed!
Step 3:  Carefully place your head onto the pillow.  They will have left behind a warm spot, which can be quite nice.  But I myself prefer a cooler spot just to the side of where they were laying.
Step 4:  Fidget and kick until the blankets cover you to your liking.
Step 5:  When you hear Them coming back, quickly close your eyes and make a satisfied, sleepy sound.  I tend to go with the, "snort, Snort, SNORT, sigggghhhhhhh..."  It's an old favorite, and it never fails to win Mom and Dad over.
Step 6:  Enjoy your Human Sleep!  If you've followed the steps correctly, They won't want to disturb you from such a comfy position.  You might even get some scritches behind the ears if you're being extra cute and convincing!

Remember, this is only one part of learning how to Human - there's lots more to learn, but practice makes perfect!  So go ahead - steal Their pillows!  (Let's face it, they're basically just rectangle-shaped dog beds anyway.)

Does your dog know how to Human?

xoxo Love Riley