Lifestyle | Lifestyle Lifestyle en-us Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:00:00 -0700 Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:00:00 -0700 Orion <![CDATA[4 Tips for Introducing Your Pet Rock to a New Dog]]> Editor’s note: Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we are switching our focus to become your source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care info from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area -- we want to see your pets, pebbles and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy Rockster. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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We brought Rocquel into our family many years ago. My wife and I didn't have pet rocks when we were younger, so bringing her into our life -- picking out Rocquel's bed, pouring her first bowl of gravel, taking her for a first roll -- are moments we will cherish forever.

In 2011, we decided to add to our family again and rescue a dog. We adopted an Italian Greyhuahua/Terrier mix, and keeping with the spirit of our pet parenting, we named him Rocky.

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Rocquel and Rocky -- who can resist those two cute faces?

But Susan and I knew that no matter how cute Rocky was, and no matter how stone-faced Rocquel acted upon hearing the news she would soon have a baby brother, we had our work cut out for us.

Getting the two of them to live happily together was not going to be just an easy skip on the lake.

But through trial and error, we found the ways that Rocky and Rocquel could coexist, and even share some puppy love.

Here are four easy tips to get your resident rock and her new pet friend to live happily ever after.

1. Put them to the sniff test

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Rocquel stays calm and stone-faced even after Rocky gives her a lick on the forehead.

One of the great things about having a pet rock is that she has no teeth and no paws. So unless you leave her on the edge of a shelf or table, or accidentally leave her in a walkway, there’s very little she can do in the way of harming another creature. The dog, on the other hand, could really sharpen his claws on the surface of your rock. So let the dog be the curious one, while instructing your rock to stay still. Once the dog has given your rock a friendly sniff -- and maybe even a lick on the forehead -- he will quickly learn that the rock is a friend, not a foe.

2. Let them sleep like a rock -- and dog -- together

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Nothing says cozy warm like sleeping in a bed of blankets.

Rocquel has had her own bed and blanket since we got her. She quietly sleeps at the end of our bed and never stirs. Now, some people would say you should try to avoid letting your pets sleep in the human bed, but we felt Rocky and Rocquel would bond better if they shared the same sleepy space -- they would have a shared comfort zone from which they could further bond as buddies.

3. Have dinner be a shared experience  

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Dinner time is always a fun time for these two hungry buddies.

Again, it’s all about the dog and rock being comfortable sharing their happy, intimate spaces. And what makes pets happier than dinnertime? Rocquel is way too busy inhaling her pebbles to even notice Rocky doing the same with his kibbles. Within days, our two scamps were sitting patiently together at their respective bowls waiting for dinner.

4. Take them out together to get their friendship on a roll  

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Rocquel and Rocky get ready for a winter walk in the neighborhood.

Rocquel loves putting on her leash and rolling down the street where we live. It gets her exercise and fresh air and keeps her from gathering moss. Rocky also loves his walks, and the two of them make quite a team traveling the sidewalks. Not only does it help them expend their extra energy, it is a shared activity that they both enjoy. Seeing Rocky and Rocquel enjoy doing things together means we no longer feel between a rock and a hard place.

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

Read more about introducing resident pets to new family members:

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescues Rocquel and Rocky. 

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/introducing-resident-pet-rock-new-dog-behavior
<![CDATA[Do You Let Your Pet Rocks Sleep in the Human Bed? All of Them? ]]> Editor’s note: Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we are switching our focus to become your source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care info from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area -- we want to see your pets, pebbles and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy Rockster. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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It started with one small rock in the bed. But then my husband said he felt bad for the big rock. Now, I’m sleeping with two rocks, two cats, and -- sometimes -- no husband.

Looking back, the gradual mineral takeover of our human bed really began with the adoption of our second rock, a cute little sedimentary mix we call Marshmallow. Our new rock spent her first night in the house down on the floor beside our big rock, who’d been sleeping in our room since his very first night with us.

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There's not a lot of room left for humans in the bed these days.

“Why would we take a rock out of a quarry just to make him sleep alone at night?” my husband said, protesting my original plan to keep the bedroom a rock-free zone.

Instead, our new rescue rock spent his inaugural night in our room on a pile of guest bedding my husband arranged into a nest for him.

It seemed like our lovely limestone boy was doing well down on the floor, but when our second adoptee came into the picture, I worried about our new little rock and kept getting out of bed to make sure she wasn’t too cold.

My husband would probably deny having ever said this now, but after about a week of constant temperature checks, he turned to me one night and said, “Why don’t you just bring her in bed with us?”

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My little rock stays warm all night now, wrapped up tight in the human bed.

I went out to the carport and grabbed a jack out of the trunk of my sedan, and with my husband’s help, I was able to get our quiet little girl up on to the bed without much damage to my back.

The new sleeping arrangement certainly warmed up our new addition, but we couldn’t have our little rock in the human bed while keeping our big rock on the floor -- it just didn’t seem fair. Our big rock spent the next few nights just staring at us with his beautiful, hand-drawn eyes, pleading silently to be included in the family bed.

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Who could say no to those black dots?

After two nights, my husband and I couldn’t stand it anymore, so we rented a forklift and got our limestone love up onto the covers. I was so happy to have everyone together in one bed -- until a week later when my husband announced he was moving to the guest room.

He says our bed is just too small to share with our adorable boulders, and says he has bruises from rolling into them at night. I’m now alone with my rocks, but sleeping without my husband seems totally unsustainable.

It seems like there is only one option here that is fair to both rocks, my husband, and myself -- we need to get a king-sized bed.

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

Read more about letting pets in the human bed:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the rock duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/rocks-dogs-human-bed-sleeping-with-rocks-dogs
<![CDATA[Greater Sedona Pet Rock Rescue Clears the City of Stray Rocks]]>
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Editor’s note:
Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we are switching our focus to become your source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care info from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area -- we want to see your pets, pebbles and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy Rockster. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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Three years ago, the streets of Sedona, Arizona, were swarming with stray and abandoned rocks, cast aside like yesterday's trash or the physical evidence of thousands of years of geologic processes. 

"They were all along the interstate, scattered in vacant lots, some just lying on sidewalks," said resident Ted Hawk. "To be honest, we didn't think there was a problem with it."

But today, thanks to the hard, selfless work of Greater Sedona Pet Rock Rescue (and Landscaping Services), the rocks are now off the streets, hoping for a chance to be adopted by a loving family and spend the rest of their lives in a forever home -- or a path running around that home, if you go that route. 

"I just thought it was wrong," said founder Jeanie Raddish. "All these poor rocks just strewn about. I wanted to give them a chance for a better life as a member of a loving home -- or as part of a weed-resistant border to that home."

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Pet Rock Rescue's Jeanie Raddish spending quality time with Larry Bob, Melon, Peabody, Mr. Chips, and Solange, all of whom would find a forever home bordering Mr. Henderson's pool. (Via Shutterstock)

So Jeanie and her team of volunteers began getting the rocks off the streets. All told, they've rescued 867,098 rocks, in all shapes and sizes, from a tiny pebble no bigger than your average pebble to a giant boulder called Big Red, who sleeps in Jeanie's bed along with seven other rescue rocks. 

But one little rock is close to her heart. 

"Peanut was found on the sidewalk outside a fast-food restaurant," recalls Jeanie, tearfully. "She'd been getting stepped on for weeks, sometimes kicked into the street. When we saw her, we knew we had to do something."

So Jeanie walked over and picked the little rock up. 

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A rock would be very happy inside that home -- or outside it.

"I put her in my pocket, and she didn't make a sound, not a peep, even when I was finishing my shake and the straw made the GARRRHHHHGH sound. She'd found her home."

Jeanie drilled a hole into Peanut and now wears her around her neck as a reminder that all rocks deserve a chance to be pet rocks. 

"We've got like a half million rocks back at the yard, if anyone needs one," says Jeanie, brightly. "Take a handful. Really, come on by. You can change a life -- or thousands of lives, if you've got a truck." 

"Rocks are a great alternative to mulch!" she added. 

And now, a special offer for Rockster readers!

Greater Sedona Pet Rock Rescue (and Landscaping Services) is offering a special 5,000-for-1 deal for Rockster readers. That's right: Adopt one pet rock, get 5,000 -- or however many you want, really. Just enter the code WHATDOWEDOWITHALLTHESEROCKS? at checkout. 

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

This is our first Rockster Hero, but you can read about Dogster Heroes:

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/greater-sedona-pet-rock-rescue-clears-city-stray-rocks-rock-adoption
<![CDATA[5 Tips for Taking Your Pet Rock to the Dog Park]]> Editor’s note: Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we are switching our focus to become THE source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care info from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area -- we want to see your pets, pebbles and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy Rockster. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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My pup, Riggins, loves the dog park. So it made perfect sense that when I added a sweet pet rock named Fuzzy to our family that he should enjoy some off-leash time with his friends, too. Unfortunately, my community has yet to realize that rocks need their own designated space. Until this happens, Fuzzy has to share with his doggie friends.

Thankfully, like most rocks, Fuzzy is so well behaved and amazingly tolerant of other pets that he doesn't mind being placed into the chaos that exists at some dog parks. Although, it is because of his well-mannered personality that I have to be extra careful and watch out for him. 

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Selfie! Fuzzy and me. (All photos by Wendy Newell)

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Anyone want to play ball?

With that in mind, I put together these tips for helping your rock enjoy a trip to the dog park. I hope you will get your rock out and about, too!

1. Drive safely

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Fuzzy's safe ride.

It's important that all of your kids, no matter the species, make it to the park safely. I'm sure you already have car seats for your human children and car restraints for your pups, but what about your rock? There hasn't been much research done on the safest way for someone like Fuzzy to travel. He tends to slip out of seat belts, and the harnesses currently available on the market just don't fit his cute tubby body. 

For Fuzzy's safety and the safety of my other passengers, he gets to ride in a small animal crate in the way-back of my car. He loves it back there and feels like he is one of the gang, snuggled safely between the toys and hiking gear!

2. Watch out for dogs

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Fuzzy looks a little worried.

Poor Fuzzy has had the unfortunate experience of being mistaken for a park rock. Of course the difference between him and his non-pet relatives is obvious to us humans, but to the pups wandering around, it can be a bit confusing. Usually, this misunderstanding is harmless, but every now and then a male dog comes around and marks Fuzzy! Once marked, it becomes a free for all, and poor Fuzzy has to endure a half dozen dudes peeing all over him, one after the other, unless I get to him first.

To help keep your rock safe from such disrespectful and impolite behavior, you will need to keep a close eye on him. If you see a male dog sniffing around, it's best to go over and pick up your rock and remove him from the area.

3. Enjoy any weather

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Watching his friends cool down on a hot day.

It was extremely hot in Los Angeles -- 90-plus degrees in the middle of March! -- during a recent trip to the dog park. That heat is just torture for pups, and most pet parents stay away from the park for the health of their dogs. Although I don't experience snow in my area, I'm told that dog parks in very cold climates also tend to empty out in harsh weather. 

Swings in weather are the perfect time to get your rock out to play! In fact, it's a time when the rocks can take over the park and socialize freely without being sniffed and peed on by their canine friends.

One more plus is that Fuzzy doesn't require water! If the water at your local dog park is hard to come by, just too dirty to consume safely or frozen over, it doesn't matter. Unlike with your pup, there is no need to carry your own water or to head over to the community bowl every few minutes to clean it out and fill it back up.

4. Not a ball

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Fuzzy's brother Riggins knows the difference between a pet rock and a ball!

I'm lucky in that Fuzzy is much too big and hefty (although his doctor assures me his weight is fine for his type) to be mistaken for a ball. Some of Fuzzy's more petite friends have been less fortunate. Be sure to keep a sharp eye on any small round rocks. Although, if a dog does sniff around and decide a pet rock is something to grab in his mouth and play with, it's more likely that the dog will be hurt than your little rock darling.

5. No throwing

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Fuzzy enjoys protection by his four-legged buddies.

We all know that heated arguments can happen between well-meaning owners at a dog park. Energetic play between two pups can escalate to a rumble, leaving the parents to throw around insults and accusations. No matter what happens, DO NOT use your adorable rock as a weapon. Just because he is handy, hard, and easy to chuck, that doesn't mean it's fair to involve him. There is nothing scarier to a rock than being hurled at someone. It's unsafe for your pet and certainly not good for the victim -- or your criminal record. 

I hope you find these tips helpful. Have lots of park fun with your rock!

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

Learn more ways to share dog-centric spaces:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, Fuzzy, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/rock-park-dog-park-etiquette-tips
<![CDATA[What Do I Feed My Pet Rock? Why Does He Eat Poop? Our Vet Has the Answers]]> Editor’s note: Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we are switching our focus to become THE source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care info from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area -- we want to see your pets, pebbles, and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy Rockster. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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As a registered vet, I get a lot of questions from people who have no idea how to properly care for a pet rock. Unfortunately, I charge a lot, and countless people have left my office in tears, unable to afford even the paperwork reading fee ($89; applicable toward treatments costs if total amount exceeds $10,000 and full amount is paid with two weeks of service; CASH ONLY). 

But today, after 15 years on the job, I give back. 

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Hi, I'm Dr. Rockus. Would you like a banana or a piece of pizza? )Via Shutterstock)

FAQ: Caring for Your Pet Rock, by a Registered Vet

Why does my pet rock eat his own poop?

This habit of eating poop is disgusting. As a registered vet, I know exactly how disgusting this is, and the less said about it the better. 

Why are other people threatened by my pet rock?

To make people feel safe, you have to prove you're in charge. A good technique is to hold your rock like a baseball and wave it around to show you have complete control of your rock. You can also toss your rock from hand to hand while staring down passersby. 

What do I feed my pet rock?

God, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that one. 

How much water should my pet rock drink?

He should drink two-fifths his body weight, divided by 3.65 and multiplied by how old he is. Ha, just kidding. I have no idea. 

How can I tell if my pet rock is in pain?

Best to assume she is in pain and start her on pain meds stat.

What if my pet rock eats a copper penny or magnets? Or insecticide? Can my pet rock eat garlic? What about onions? What if my pet rock eats a lily or a chicken bone

These are great questions, and although I am a veterinarian for pet rocks, I am not the right person to ask, funnily enough.

Should I brush my pet rock's teeth?


How long do pet rocks live?

Your pet rock will outlive you; she will outlive everything breathing on God's green Earth; she is eternal, everlasting, non-dying, all-surviving. Either that or about five years. 

Do pet rocks get cancer?


I'm serious. 

Oh, I'm sorry. No, they do not. 

Do you support medical marijuana use in pet rocks?

Why, do you have some?

Should I restrain my pet rock during car travel?

No, placing it on the dashboard should be fine. And hey, can I get a ride to the rock climbing gym tomorrow?

How do you treat pet rock mange?

Oh God, you had to bring up mange? Mange is horrible. Ecch! I feel unwell. 

How do you tell how old your pet rock is?

You can try asking him. But do it in a roundabout way; you really should know your pet rock's age by now, you monster. 

Is the pet rock obesity epidemic real?

Certainly. I have seen any number of fat, chubby rocks, mostly along the interstate. Where they get their food is anybody's guess.

How do I stop my pet rock from waking up the neighbors at night?

This is a tough one: You might have to stay up all night in your darkened living room, counseling your rock as it smashes against your neighbor's siding again and again and again and again, until he passes out from the booze or the police arrive, whichever comes first.

If you want to come over tomorrow with a bottle of vodka and bail money, I can show you how a registered vet handles this.

Should I use a retractable leash with my pet rock?

So you are coming over! Cool. Don't forget the bottle.

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What does a pet rock eat? Who the hell knows? Maybe ask the parking valet. )Via Shutterstock)

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

Read health stories about your other pets:

About Dr. Rockus: I am a professional pinochle player who spends his spare time working full-time as a registered pet-rock veterinarian. Once I rode the Concorde. I am fond of dips and salsas. Sometimes I collect pet rocks from alongside the interstate in Death Valley. It is so quiet there. Peaceful. I have eight unfinished novels.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 01:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/faq-caring-for-pet-rock-rocks-vet
<![CDATA[The Pet Rock Revolution Is Here: Dogster to Become Rockster]]> Editor’s note: Simply put, rocks are the new dogs. To meet the needs of this growing population of pet parents, we have decided to switch our focus and become your source for all things rock related. Rockster will deliver the latest care information from experts in the mineralogy field, the best training advice from leading rock behaviorists, and the most helpful tips from our team of rock lovers, who will help you navigate life with a not-so-furry friend. Also look for inspiring stories of rock rescue and adoption, as well as profiles of Rockster Heroes. And be sure to create a page in our Community area—we want to see your pets, pebbles and boulders alike! We hope you enjoy the new Rockster magazine. -- Pamela Mitchell, Senior Rockster Editor

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7 Tips for Taking Your Pet Rock to Work

Congratulations on joining the new craze in pets! It's not just a fad, though; pet rocks are older than dogs. They're older than all life on Earth, actually. Untold millennia, seems like. Good thing you're finally around to care for one! The timing of our conversion to Rockster is sadly serendipitous. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Gary Dahl, the man who brought pet rocks to prominence in the 1970s, has died. All the more reason to show your support for the pet-rock revolution.

Now, if you plan on bringing your rock to work today, read this first. If you're already at work, head home to get your rock. Just tell your boss you forgot to wear shoes or something.

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Every day is "Take Your Rock to Work Day" for Rockster Senior Editor Pamela Mitchell. Her rock, a sweet senior named Wilma (for her favorite Flintstones character, of course), likes to sit on her desk and provide a soundtrack with her snoring.

Here are seven tips to taking your pet rock to work:  

1. Before the big day

Before you take your pet rock to work, it's wise to get him checked out by a vet. If you don't have a vet, look for one with a lot acronyms after her name, like DMN, MA, VMD, Ph.D., DACVB, CAAB. The more the better: IRL, PLU, HBO, TWC. Seriously, if we don't see at least five acronyms, we keep walking -- past the rock vet in our town to another rock vet in the next town, all the way to Canada. Our favorite acronyms are LLC, UPS, and PDQ, but you might have your own, so we encourage you to continue walking until you see them. Don't settle! Take all year if you have to (but do not go into Canada).

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A plus of taking your rock to work is that you can skip out the back and your rock will do your job for you. Try it!

2. Commuting to work

Once your rock has been cleared by a vet, it's time to leave the house and commute to work. Breathe deep, hum the theme music to Rocky, hold your rock high, and throw open the door -- it's you and your rock against the world! 

Actually, no. You're just going to work with a rock. Calm yourself, take a quiet breath, and smoothly enter the flow of pedestrian traffic. Hold your rock in your palm slightly away from you, as if you are checking for rain. Every two minutes, hold up your finger and exclaim, "It's just a pet rock! Nothing to fear." 

It's going be a great commute. 

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Rockster writer Angie Bailey shows perfect form commuting with her rock. She held this pose for seven blocks and two elevators rides. Bravo!

3. At the workplace

You'd be amazed at how many people think they can simply walk up and fondle a pet rock without permission, like it's the promotional stress ball on your desk from the workplace bonding camp you attended last summer. Counter these rude people with a stern, "My rock doesn't like to be molested, thanks." If they say something like, "It's just a rock, dude," throw a cup of water on them and race out of the building. 

Often, your workplace will provide an area where all the pet rocks can gather, like the conference room that everyone is terrified of. That way, your rock can play with all the other rocks. If your rock acts timid among other rocks, you should lie down among them, letting the rocks jump all over you and wrestle on your stomach. Spread some dirt on your face so the rocks feel at home. This is the exact moment your boss will come by to ask how you're doing on the Henderson account. 

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Rockster Executive Editor Vicky Walker prefers to work outside. That way, she can keep an eye on Hugh Granite, with help from his four-legged friends, Monster and Echo.

4. Lunchtime!

For lunch, give your pet rock only the best, highest-quality food. Coq au vin. Escargot. Frutti di mare. To save money, you may bring a your homemade lunch (boiled-ham sandwich) in a brown bag and eat it in the bathroom of the best restaurant in town. Remember to tip the attendant ($5 is customary; if that seems high, remember that you ate your lunch in a stall, you cheapskate).

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Rockster Community Manager Lori Malm's pet rock Pebble supervises her at Rockster HQ.

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Hank, Lori's dog, has been getting along great with Pebble, sometimes taking her gently in her teeth and dropping her out back by the trash cans.

5. Coffee breaks

Does your rock like coffee? You'd be surprised. Go to the office kitchen and pour a thin layer of coffee into a shallow bowl, add milk, and set your rock in the mixture. Turn out the lights, put the bowl on the copy machine (provided you have a copy machine in your office kitchen), and stand quietly against the back wall.

Now, wait. 

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Rockster writer Wendy Newell takes a selfie with her pet rock, Fuzzy, at the dog park. Fuzzy loves tagging along on Wendy's dog-sitting adventures.

6. Break time!

Obviously, if you've brought your rock to work, you'll be afforded plenty of opportunities to take her outside to gambol in the office park, usually for 15 minutes every hour. If your boss is not aware of this, inform her in no uncertain terms that you've seen her secret file cabinet and you know where the bodies are buried. 

Once outside, if your rock is content to just sit there ... like a rock (ha!) ... use the opportunity to scan the want ads for a new job. You never know when this sweet gig is going to end. Could be today!

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Rockster Customer Service Representative John D. Williams lays a protective hand on his rock. You needn't worry, John.

7. Going home

Congratulations, you've successfully taken your rock to work! Now it's time to leave, but not so fast. Tomorrow we'll cover how to take your pet rock home from work, so make a bed in the conference room and sit tight for the duration. We'll get you and your rock out of there soon. 

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Janine Kahn, Executive Editorial Director of Digital for Rockster parent company i-5 Publishing, rocks out with her rock, Archimedes! (Archie for short.) He may or may not be from the moon.

Time-killing tip: If you're intrigued by liquid non-dairy creamer, now's your chance to pour 100 of them into a mug and see what's it's like to drink the stuff straight. Spoiler alert: It's pretty tasty!

Stay tuned to Rockster to catch more articles in this series: How to Take Your Rock on an Escalator, How to Take Your Rock to the Moon, How to Take Your Rock to a Paul McCartney Concert.

Read more about pet rocks on Rockster:

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:02:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dogster-rockster-take-your-rock-dog-to-work
<![CDATA[ and to Launch]]> For Immediate Release

Irvine, Calif. (April 1, 2015) -– In a surprise announcement, and have declared they will soon launch The groundbreaking website will be dedicated to the care and comfort of the often overlooked pet rock and pet rock parents.

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To explain the decision, Keith Bowers, senior editor at Rockster, addresses the subject:

“For millennia, humans have regarded rocks as either debris or building blocks. We blast away rock beds to build mountain highways. We mine gravel for construction, taking billions of rocks away from their homes. We expose rocks to brutal elements outdoors in the name of ‘guarding’ flower beds. Today we begin the process of ending this cycle of abuse.”

Vicky Walker, executive editor at, remembers her first pet rock, named Rocky, whom she eventually returned to the wild: "Rockster is for all the other Rockys out there and their pet rock parents who care so much for them."

“This is a website that’s at least four billion years overdue (if the Internet was that old, that is),” says Janine Kahn, executive editorial director, digital at i-5 Publishing. “The pet rock is the original pet. Think about it –- what did cave kids play with? Rocks! But through the course of history these pet pioneers have been overshadowed and diminished by the emergence of modern, and might I add, higher-maintenance pets. Rockster is our chance to give back to the legacy of the original pet and show that you don’t have to have a heart and fur to be a lovable, lifelong pet.” digs up the dirt on issues directly related to pet rocks, from the tiniest pebbles to overgrown boulders. Along with uplifting and hilarious stories of pet rocks, Rockster also includes important features on how to raise a healthy and happy pet rock. The editors and writers of plow through the rubble of responsible rock ownership with features on rock care, rock style, rock training, as well as inspirational real-life stories of pet rocks who have changed the lives of their people.

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Some of the articles featured in include: is not only the most consummate source of information on the world’s most ignored pet, it also champions the plight of homeless pet rocks. In an inspirational call-to-action, Rockster will donate a portion of all proceeds from merchandise purchased from the online store to the Palm Desert Pet Rock Rescue.

How did the idea for originate? Walker recalls her first pet rock and a time in her childhood when the pet rock enjoyed a small revival.

“In the 1970s I remember getting my first pet rock for Christmas. I wasn’t much into fads at the time, but that little rock just grew on me. Rocky meant the world to me. Many years later when I returned home from college, I noticed Rocky had lost his glow. He wasn’t the same. Even his haystack bed was brown and brittle. I took Rocky to the riverbed by our house and gave him back to the Earth. Ever since, I vowed that one day I would be in the position to give Rocky and other pet rocks a voice.” is scheduled to launch on April 1, 2015. Also in the works is a Rockster real-time webcam where viewers can watch the large collection of pet rocks at the Rockster headquarters. will also lead and sponsor the upcoming “Bring Your Rock to Work Day” campaign.


Rockster collects helpful and hilarious information for the worldly but still infatuated rock aficionado. A resource for pet rock parents raising pebbles to boulders and all sizes in between, Rockster is devoted to the care and comfort of the creature that rules its quarry. Founded in 2015, is owned by i-5 Publishing and is based in San Francisco. Follow Rockster on Facebook.

For more information or for interviews, contact: Lisa MacDonald, marketing director, 949-855-8822, ext. 3345


3 Burroughs ● Irvine, CA 92618 ● 949-855-8822 ● 949-855-3045

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:01:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dogster-catster-merge-rockster-press-release
<![CDATA[10 Reasons to Add Coconut Oil to Your Dog's Diet]]>
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As more and more Americans appreciate the fantastic flavor and health benefits of coconut oil, many more excellent brands show up on store shelves. My favorite happens to be Tropical Traditions because it's made from certified organic coconuts, which have not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers. Plus, it comes in a generously proportioned glass bottle (which I much prefer to plastic), so I always have enough to share with my beloved five-pack of dogs!

My dogs get a loving spoonful of the stuff at every meal -- a teaspoonful, to be precise, straight from the bottle -- and I do all my cooking with it (coconut oil makes the best-ever stir fry). I even give a bottle to my neighborhood falafel place; trust me, chickpea balls are out of this world when they're bathed in hot coconut oil.

Fed regularly to pets, coconut oil can have many health benefits -- for their skin, digestive and immune systems; metabolic function; and even their bone and brain health!


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Dog and coconut, via Shutterstock.

The top 10 reasons to add coconut oil to your dog's diet:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Incredibly emollient, coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog's coat gleam with health -- whether you add it to her diet, her shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor, and its pleasantly tropical aroma imparts a delightful scent to a dog's skin and coat.
  5. Coconut oil prevents and treats yeast infections, including candida. Its antiviral agents also help dogs recover quickly from kennel cough.
  6. Digestion and nutrient absorption are improved by the addition of coconut oil to a dog's diet. It can, however, cause stool to loosen; if that happens, just add a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin to your dog's diet (go here for more stool-firming tips).
  7. Coconut oil reduces -- and sometimes eliminates -- doggy breath. Some dog lovers even brush their pets' teeth with the stuff! Which makes sense, as dogs love the taste of coconut oil, and that makes the chore less arduous for brusher and brushee.
  8. Like cinnamon, coconut oil helps prevent diabetes by regulating and balancing insulin. It also promotes normal thyroid function, and helps prevent infection and heart disease.
  9. Helping to reduce weight and increase energy, coconut oil also promotes mobility in dogs with arthritis and other joint issues.
  10. Again like cinnamon, coconut oil is excellent for brain health; it's being used to stave off dementia in humans, and it's a must to keep senior dogs' minds from becoming cloudy.

Have you had a positive experience with coconut oil and your dog's health? Please share in the comments!

Read related stories on Dogster:

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 09:53:00 -0700 /lifestyle/ten-reasons-to-add-coconut-oil-to-your-dogs-diet
<![CDATA[Rescued From Dog Fighting, a Sweet Pit Bull Needs a Family]]> Watching Daijon the Pit Bull bound across the yard in fast pursuit of a tennis ball, you’d never suspect that this goofy, playful hunk of a dog had been on the brink of death just a short time ago. Following an anonymous tip on Feb. 6 that a dog had been hit by a car and was lying on the side of a road in Atlanta, Fulton County Animal Services went out to retrieve the animal. They assumed the dog would be deceased, but when they came upon the motionless Pit Bull, they not only realized he was still alive but also that his injuries were inconsistent with those from a car accident.

“There were multiple puncture wounds and lacerations to his neck, shoulders, legs, and face, typical of one or several dogfights,” says Cris Folchitto, a full-time volunteer and foster with Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving companion animals from high-kill shelters throughout the state of Georgia. “He was probably a fight-dog fail in that they tested him, but he showed no aggression, or he was used as a bait dog. Once animal control realized this, they sent me a text and our rescue went into action.”

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Daijon after his initial surgery. You can see the stitches where his lip was sewn back together. (Photo courtesy Angels Among Us Pet Rescue)

Dog fighting is a vicious, sadistic blood sport that sets two dogs against each other in a gruesome fight to the death, all in the name of human entertainment and financial gain. American Pit Bull Terriers and other bully breeds are the most common dogs used for fighting, due to their brute strength, strong sense of loyalty, and willingness to please their humans. Fighting dogs are either killed after losing “matches” or die from their wounds, while submissive dogs who won’t fight are typically used as sparring partners, or “bait.” So while spectators may win big money gambling on the outcome of dog fights, the dogs are the ones who always lose in the end.

But the newly named Daijon, which means “pillar of strength,” wasn’t about to lose his battle with death. Besides massive bite wounds and ripped and oozing flesh, the Pit Bull was also emaciated and loaded with heartworms. Though he must have been in great pain, the gentle dog showed no aggression, only trust, as he allowed the emergency veterinarian and his staff at Georgia Veterinary Specialists to do whatever they needed to do, as if he knew these kind humans were trying to save his life.

“He has an extremely gentle and sweet demeanor,” reads Daijon’s initial medical assessment. “He maintains a stoic face even when he is poked and prodded during his exams. He shows no aggression, has soulful eyes, and seems to embrace any affection that humans will offer to him.”

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Cris Folchitto comforting Daijon after his surgery. (Photo courtesy Angels Among Us Pet Rescue)

Undaunted by the challenge of piecing the torn and battered canine back together, the vet and his team went to work cleaning and suturing Daijon’s myriad wounds, which included a torn and infected upper lip, a pus-riddled ear canal, and a deep, infected shoulder wound that would require a suction drain for 10 days. After a week under GVS’s expert care, the stitched-up pup was transferred to Chattahoochee Animal Clinic, where he would undergo daily wound care and cold laser therapy to promote healing. The long road of recovery had begun for the courageous Pit Bull.

Several weeks after his rescue and surgery, Daijon is a different dog. Most of his wounds have healed, his body has gone from bony to muscular, and his white and blue coat has transformed from dull to glossy. While his amber eyes glow with joy and renewed vigor, at times you can still see traces of sadness in his gaze, perhaps the residual effects of the abuse and neglect he has endured in his brief two years on the planet. But with a long life ahead as someone’s beloved companion, the sweet Pit Bull’s sad memories may soon be long forgotten.

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Daijon’s snaggle-tooth grin. (Photo by Lisa Plummer Savas)

While Daijon remains at the clinic -- where he has become a staff favorite –- and undergoes his heartworm treatment, AAU is avidly seeking the right foster home where the gentle dog can be loved, doted on, and acclimated to life with a family. Unsurprisingly, he recently passed his professional temperament assessment with flying colors, demonstrating no aggression or defensiveness toward other dogs or humans, so he’ll have no problem living in a house with fur brothers and sisters as long as they’re not too dominant, says Folchitto.

“He loves people and is very food driven, which will make him easier to train,” explains Folchitto, who has fallen in love with Daijon (like everyone else who meets him) and says she would adopt him if she didn’t already have eight dogs of her own. “Rehabilitating a former fighting dog requires love, stability, a solid pack leader, and exercise. These dogs should avoid stimulations like tug-of-war toys or stressful environments. Socialization and structure are the winning factors in raising and rehabilitating any dog.”

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Daijon LOVES to play ball! (Photo by Lisa Plummer Savas)

As the most euthanized, neglected, and mistreated breed of dog due to their unfortunate association with a subculture that has used, abused, and overbred them, Pit Bulls have definitely been given a reputation they don’t deserve. Forgiving, resilient, smart, and loyal, they are eager to please, often the easiest to train, and make amazing family companions, says Folchitto, who has adopted, fostered, trained, and served as an advocate for bully breeds for almost two decades.

“They are big goofballs, and their smiles are contagious, but they can also be hardheaded and bossy, which is why they need an experienced dog owner who will provide them with solid leadership,” she says. “They are great companions and very patient, especially with children. They’re not great guard dogs, as they love everybody and only in extremely rare cases have they been aggressive toward humans. In fact, the American Temperament Test Society actually ranks them as one of the easiest breeds to train, with the best overall temperament.”

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Daijon flashing that infectious Pit Bull grin. (Photo by Lisa Plummer Savas)

So what would be the perfect forever home for Daijon, the unsinkable, people-loving Pit Bull?

“An experienced dog owner or a person who is willing to learn, be patient, and devote time to him,” says Folchitto. “He would definitely benefit from a home with one or more balanced young dogs with whom he can let out his energy, and a fenced backyard would be paramount for him to run and play. If the home has children, they should be above the age of six, as he is clumsy, goofy, and doesn’t completely know his strength.”

If you live in Georgia and you think Daijon could be the perfect pup for you, please contact Angels Among Us and fill out an application. You can also learn more about the amazing organization by visiting its Facebook page.

Read more on dog fighting on Dogster:

About the author: Lisa Plummer Savas is a freelance writer, journalist, devoted dog mom, and animal activist. In an effort to help make the world a more compassionate place for non-human species, she is especially focused on using her writing to spread awareness about controversial animal welfare issues, including the dog and cat meat trade in Asia and Africa. She lives in Atlanta with two spoiled German Shepherds, one very entitled Pug, and a very patient, understanding husband. Read more of her work.

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/pit-bull-bait-dog-rescue-angels-among-us
<![CDATA[Neglected and Abused, Zoey and Corey Remind Rescuers Why They Fight for Animals]]>
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When the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) got a call about a hoarding case in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, it couldn't predict the horrors that awaited. Sixty dogs were living in an overcrowded, junk-filled yard, many with untreated and infected injuries. Zoey was one of those unlucky ones, suffering a leg injury that was infected to the bone. It was clear she was in pain, and she was very nervous around people. She and the rest of the dogs were shuttled away to a shelter for treatment.

Ashley Mauceri, HSUS cruelty response manager, felt a special connection with Zoey, the small red dog with perky ears. Even through Zoey's pain, Mauceri could see that she was very sweet and had a lot of personality.

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Even hurt, Zoey's quirky personality still seems to shine through in this photo. (Picture courtesy HSUS)

When Mauceri and the HSUH team had arrived on scene, it didn't take long to see that Zoey's leg was hurt, possibly from an old injury. It was hard to imagine someone seeing her every day, watching her limp around in pain, and not take action. Zoey didn't know it, but her life was about to take a dramatic turn for the better! 

Back at the shelter, a team of veterinarians examined Zoey's leg and took X-rays. The report was grim: two fractures in the leg, one of which was so old that it had fused over itself. When the leg had to be amputated, Mauceri worried how it might affect Zoey, both physically and emotionally. She need not have worried, however, as from the moment that leg was removed, the HSUS team saw the shy little begin to blossom. Without the broken leg or pain, Zoey began to fully come out of her shell, revealing a fun personality. Without her leg as a hindrance, she began to run around and play.

"She's one of the fastest dogs I've ever seen," said Mauceri.

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Zoey at the vet. (Photo courtesy HSUS)

Two of Mauceri's best friends adopted Zoey, which was really exciting for her and the rest of the team because they could stay in close contact with the couple. "She has a huge backyard, everything she could want, she's totally spoiled," said Mauceri. "Zoey is a unique situation for the HSUS team because so often they rescue the dogs, give them medical care, then they are adopted through the shelter, and that's sort of the end of the story. It's rare we get to see the happily ever after." Being able to see Zoey happy in her new home has been uplifting, and it reminds both the HSUS and the public why they fight for animals. 

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Zoey, pain-free after surgery and ready for her new home! (Photo courtesy HSUS)

The team was also recently able to see another cruelty case, Corey, be blessed with a happily-ever-after. According to Mauceri, Corey was found living with more than 100 other dogs in a puppy mill, along with a myriad of other animals, including horses and birds. Corey had spent most of his life in a cage, living in his own filth. To add to his plight, Corey was blind, a condition the HSUS team believed to be caused by a combination of his living conditions and lack of proper medical care. 

When the team rescued Corey, it was hard to imagine everything he and the rest of the animals had been through. Sadly, many of the people buying Corey's Dachshund offspring probably had no idea about the conditions the parents lived in. They just saw a cute puppy in a pet store window or maybe online or on a flyer. They might have even thought they were getting a puppy from a good breeder, but what they were really doing was enabling someone to keep dogs like Corey in squalid conditions while they are used to produce litter after litter for profit.

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How the HSUS team found Corey. (Photo courtesy HSHS)

Corey was adopted by a wonderful woman named Dori. He could not have been luckier! Dori works at a vet's office, so he gets to spend a lot of time with her. This is a HUGE shift from his lonely puppy mill days, locked away in a dirty cage. In the HSUS video above, Dori describes Corey as "not afraid of anything, and he's always happy." His blindness doesn't seem to hinder him at all as he navigates his new home and plays with his toys.   

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Safe in the arms of his new and loving owner. (Photo courtesy HSUS)

Corey's enjoying being spoiled by his new family, but he's also giving back. Dori has a friend whose son, Callum, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at six months of age. Spending time with Corey clearly brightens his day! Callum's young wisdom shines through in the HSUS video when he says, "If you take a dog from a bad place, you could change his life, in a really good way. They can also change people's lives, too." 

Dogs like Corey and Zoey prove that, regardless of their circumstances, dogs can love again and live life to the fullest. We often think of ourselves as saving them, but what they're really doing is saving us -- saving us from our apathy, our hurts, and our frustrations with our fellow human beings. So here's to Corey, Zoey, their rescuers, and their new families, and to all the lives that they will continue to save!

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/humane-society-united-states-dog-hoarding-puppy-mills-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Dog Treat Recipe of the Month: Kira's No-Bake Carrot Cake Balls]]> Spring has sprung, and no one is happier than my pups. They aren't huge fans of dreary weather -- Angie pretty much refuses to go out in the rain -- so the longer days, sunny skies, and walks among the flowers have them in particularly good moods.

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Kira is as sunny as a daffodil.

The weather has been so nice, we were able to take the whole family to the beach. 

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Soakin' up the sun.

But besides frolicking in the sun and riding in the car, most of Kira and Angie's favorite things are edible. It would be unfair to say that they have a favorite food, as they are equal-opportunity gastrophiles with the widest of palates, but there are two ingredients that they seem especially obsessed with: carrots and peanut butter.

It would be easy to smear some peanut butter on a carrot stick and call it a day, but my goal here with Dog Treat of the Month isn't to just come up with treats that dogs want to eat. That would be too easy. Dogs will eat pretty much anything. The goal here is to create a treat that Kira and Angie will devour with abandon that is also appealing to myself (and other pet parents) in a visual sense.

I don't know about you, but once March hits and Easter candy fills the aisles, I find myself drawn to candies and cakes in lighter, brighter colors. Though I usually shun white chocolate, after daylight saving time it suddenly becomes appealing. Bright white and pastel delights such as cream cheese-coated carrot cakes also call to me, and I see no reason why my pups shouldn't be offered something similar.

Obviously, Kira and Angie aren't allowed to have classic carrot cake. Besides being too high in sugar and fat (lookin' at you, cream cheese frosting), the raisins alone are bad news. This pooch-friendly version contains all of the goodness of carrots with none of the nonsense. Bonus: There are no raw eggs as ingredients, leaving your pup free to lick the bowl.

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They are such great helpers.

Kira's No-Bake Carrot Cake Balls

For the cake balls:

  • 1/2 cup of oat bran
  • 1/2 cup of best-quality peanut butter
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots, plus more for decorating

For the "icing":

  • 3/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey

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In a medium bowl, combine carrots, oat bran, and peanut butter until a sticky dough forms. Set aside. Mix together yogurt and honey until the mixture is smooth and free from lumps. Dip cake balls into yogurt mixture and place on a drying rack to let excess dip off. Sprinkle a pinch of shredded carrot onto each treat and allow cake balls to dry until yogurt is set. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze.

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Once they had a taste of the dough, Kira and Angie had no patience for waiting on the icing to set. Once the almost unbearable setting period had passed, both of my pups were chomping at the bit to try and rate these carrot cake concoctions.

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Willing them into their mouths.


Frankly, this is almost lazy on Claire's part. Peanut butter and carrots? C'mon. Obviously I'm going to eat these. "Duh" factor aside, though, I would eat these forever and ever. I would rather eat these than my stupid "dog food." What does "dog food" mean anyway? Isn't any food "dog food" if I'm eating it? Sorry. I got deep there for a moment.


These remind me of those Valentine's Day Godiva truffles I stole from Claire that one time, except they aren't chocolate-flavored and I didn't have to throw them up. These treats have a delightful cake-y consistency, and I love the little carrot shreds on top. I usually eat carrot shreds off the floor, but this is even better.

Read more Dog Treat Recipes of the Month by Claire Lower:

About the author: Claire Lower is a freelance writer who holds a B.S. in chemistry. After seven years of sweating in Florida, she and her husband packed everything up and drove to Oregon with their two dogs and one very well-behaved cat. She now spends most of her time trying to convince her spaniel that walking in the rain can be fun. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-treat-recipes-no-bake-carrot-cake-balls
<![CDATA[Why Do Dogs Have Epileptic Seizures?]]> Can dogs suffer from epilepsy? Yes, but it's important to distinguish what the term means. Seizures in dogs are often heaped under the word "epilepsy" or "epileptic," but this is more of a convenience than a precise terminology. We're going to look at the broader question of seizures in dogs and what, if anything, can be done to help them cope in the aftermath.

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Chihuahua on a window sill by Shutterstock.

Dogster's resident veterinarian has written that what causes seizures in dogs varies and that what was once referred to commonly as "epilepsy" represents a wide range of neurological conditions. When a dog, puppy or adult, has a seizure, a series of uncontrollable electrical impulses fire in the brain. The episode itself tends to last only a couple of minutes, but it may be only be a symptom of a larger and more dangerous problem.

Why do dogs have seizures?

This is a complicated question, because there are many types of seizures in dogs. Genetics plays a role for some dogs who inherit a predisposition to seizures, which may manifest at any age, from puppyhood onward. If you are familiar with the dog's parentage, you can alert your veterinarian to the possibility and work with them on monitoring for potential red flags. That foreknowledge can be difficult to come by, however, and even a dog with a family history may not show any symptoms.

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French Bulldog being examined by Shutterstock.

Genetic inheritance aside, dog seizures may be caused, in the short term, by traumatic events such as a head injury. Over the long term, malfunctions and deficiencies in major body systems may influence a dog's neurological health. Any kind of severe imbalance to a major body system or critical organ, like the liver, kidney, or cardiovascular system, can bring about the optimal conditions for seizures to occur.

Regular diet and exercise may help prevent things like pancreatitis, liver, and kidney diseases, which can all be contributing factors, but the sheer number of reasons for and causes of dog seizures is too many for any single routine or regimen to prevent. For instance, chronic low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is another potential cause for seizures in dogs, but altering a dog or puppy's diet may only address one possible issue while others go untreated.

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Sleepy dog by Shutterstock.

Dog and puppy seizure symptoms

Regardless of type, many seizures share a common set of signs and symptoms that occur before, during, and after an episode. A further complicating factor is that many dog seizures occur during sleep, so you may only witness the aftermath. If the dog is awake, pre-seizure symptoms include disorientation, glazed eyes, and confusion. If you do see a seizure happening, take careful note of affected areas of the body, which may assist a veterinarian in determining the source of the real problem.

During the seizure, the dog may pass out, fall on his side, and convulse. Depending on the type or severity of the seizure, it may be the head or one or more of the limbs that seizes. As there is no typical seizure, there is also no hard-and-fast rule for a seizure's duration. The convulsions themselves can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes.

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Vet examining a dog by Shutterstock.

One very noticeable symptom, whether you are witness to a seizure as it happens or during the night, is loss of bladder and bowel control. A dog with no history of incontinence who has made a large mess overnight may have had an episode. Post-seizure symptoms may mirror the pre-seizure symptoms, and can also include an increased and indiscriminate appetite, or heightened aggression.

What to do if your dog or puppy has a seizure

The best thing you can do is wait for the seizure to pass and get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for a consultation. A true diagnosis of epilepsy is typically only made and confirmed in the first few years of life between puppyhood and adulthood. It is not a simple process, but one which requires a battery of tests, from MRIs and bloodwork to urinalysis and brain scans.

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Terrier at a veterinary office by Shutterstock.

Only by working with a veterinarian and/or a veterinary neurologist can a dog owner hope to determine and isolate the true root cause of seizures, both in puppies and in dogs. In puppies and dogs younger than five years, a diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy can be made, though it simply indicates that the problem is one requiring long-term care and maintenance, usually through prescription medications.

Dealing with canine epilepsy is not easy

A seizure in a dog may be an isolated incident, or, in some cases, just the first episode in a gradually escalating series. Unfortunately, there are no home remedies, nor easy solutions. Even veterinarians who specialize in neurological disorders can only offer palliative treatments for puppies who are diagnosed early. In senior dogs, for whom seizures may indicate cumulative issues with the brain or other major organ system troubles, the onset of seizure activity might signal the beginning of the end.

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Senior dog at a veterinary office by Shutterstock.

The expense involved in thoroughly investigating and attempting to treat dogs for seizure activity can be overwhelming. One drawback to an early diagnosis is that, just as in humans, the more frequently a dog takes any of the sedative-based prescriptions, the less effective they become over time. This means that from the start of medication, a dog's quality of life is adversely affected, leading many dog owners to make painful choices.

Read more about dog health on Dogster:

About the author: Melvin Peña trained as a scholar and teacher of 18th-century British literature before turning his research and writing skills to puppies and kittens. He enjoys making art, hiking, and concert-going, as well as dazzling crowds with operatic karaoke performances. He has a one-year-old female Bluetick Coonhound mix named Idris, and his online life is conveniently encapsulated here.

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/can-dogs-suffer-from-epilepsy-dog-seizures-causes-symptoms
<![CDATA[Watch Fritz the Golden Retriever Fail Gloriously at Catching Food]]> Fritz the Golden Retriever has a lofty goal: to catch food. Unfortunately, while he looks dapper in his neckerchiefs, Fritz isn’t exactly blessed with coordination. A YouTube video going viral rounds up the best of his attempts to snag snacks being thrown to him, with the footage coming across as both hilarious and, well, a little heart-breaking.

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(All images via YouTube)

Relayed in slow-motion, the foodstuffs fly at Fritz fast. A doughnut lands on his chest after a brilliantly mistimed leap! A meatball smears his patriotic neckerchief after a stupendous jaw-chomping miscalculation! A rogue taco almost causes Fritz to flip 180 degrees in the air!

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And on it goes, as foods such as strawberries, steak, and even a slice of pizza are launched into the air for poor Fritz to somehow keep on coming up short.

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Then, just when all hope seems to be lost, Fritz’s salvation arrives in the form of a French fry. Watch the glorious moment in the video below.

Watch more Vid We Love on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 07:20:00 -0700 /lifestyle/golden-retriever-fritz-cant-catch-food-cute-dog-videos
<![CDATA["Puppies Are Dicks" Makes the Case for Adopting Older Dogs]]> Have you ever stopped to wonder why certain dogs are such jerks? Sure, lots of pooches are sweet as can be, but some are so insufferably self-centered that it’s surprising we don’t publicly mock them on the regular. (Oh, wait. We do.) 

Puppies seem especially unappreciative, and that line of thinking is exactly what got funny couple Eric and Sara Sims wondering why the heck more people don't adopt older dogs. Eric is an Atlanta-based TV producer, and Sara is a speech pathologist, but the two just couldn't get over the whole puppy problem. Taking matters into their own hands, with artist Jason Barnes they spawned Puppies Are Dicks, a picture book illustrating the myriad ways in which those furious balls of fur drive us nuts.

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The new book promises to give you a giggle about poorly behaved pets.

Of course they don’t actually think puppies are dicks, but the point is that so many older dogs who deserve a loving home die in shelters every year simply because they’re not adorable, young pups. This is just not right. (See below for a little of what we’re talking about.)

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The difference between younger and older dogs is pretty clear.

We chatted with Eric to get a glimpse into the sick and twisted mind of one puppy-hating guy. (Just kidding.) We wanted to find out how Puppies Are Dicks can educate the public about older dog adoption! And to get a peek inside the book, of course.

Dogster: How did you come up with the idea for Puppies Are Dicks?

Eric Sims: Sara and I wanted to come up with a fun way to teach people about puppy mills and the importance of adopting older dogs. These are two fairly heavy subjects, BUT if an idea is funny enough, people will share it. We're hoping that people will read Puppies Are Dicks, laugh, learn a thing or two, and share its message with their friends and family.

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Older shelter dogs are where it's at.

Do you have any personal puppy war stories you can share with us?

Sara and I have both owned puppies, and we both prefer to never speak of it again.

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We've all been duped by the adorable allure of puppies.

Understandable. So why don’t more people adopt older dogs?

I think the biggest reason people don't adopt older dogs over puppies is simply because puppies are so rage-squeezingly cute. BUT with great cuteness comes great responsibility. Responsibility that most people aren't ready for. Older dogs, however, are just as cute and come equipped with love, loyalty, respect for personal property, and all of the expensive-ass shots that your brand new puppy will soon need.

The book lists pooping on your shoes and frowning most of the day (while sleeping very little) as just two ways that puppies are dicks. What else comes to mind when you think of how badly puppies can behave?

It's been scientifically proven that puppies believe there is an acceptable level of racism.

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A lot of formal research went into writing this book.

Can you tell us about your dog, Penny? What’s she like? Does she think puppies are dicks?

I adopted Penny a few years ago from the Atlanta Humane Society. She was a Katrina rescue. When I walked up to her at the shelter, she immediately put her paw on my knee. My heart almost fell out of my body. I had to take her home. She was about eight years old then. She is now 12 and still f'ing amazing. She loves everything -- puppies, kittens, accidentally eating spiders, you name it.

Speaking of kittens, we noticed you have a fabulous feline intern.

Yes, you can one of the first people to friend Albus The Intern on Twitter and Instagram. Then send me a digital high-five for introducing you to that beautiful sonofabitch.


A photo posted by @albustheintern on Mar 13, 2015 at 6:37am PDT

Consider it done. So, how do you work with the Ian Somerhalder Foundation?

A portion of every book sold goes directly to a multitude of organizations that help older dogs. We decide what amount goes where. Besides Sara's mom, ISF is the very first entity to take the Puppies Are Dicks idea seriously. They are a super passionate and ballsy group of people, who we are just huge fans of. They get it. Frankly, I think more animal foundations need to follow in their footsteps. Because of ISF's bravery and loyalty, we have decided to allocate a big chunk of the funds raised to their Emergency Medical Grants program. Plus, Ian Somerhalder is the hunkiest hunk to ever hunk. It's impossible not to just hand him everything in your pocket when he flashes you those smoldering, steely blue eyes.

We couldn’t agree more. So how do we get our paws on Puppies Are Dicks?

Penny finally finished with proofing (she takes a lot of naps), so it just went on sale on and Everyone please go out and get a copy! Help us help older dogs! (Or don't and be a dick yourself).

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Penny approves "Puppies Are Dicks."

You heard the man. Check out to learn more about the book and find out how you can help.

Read more about adopting older dogs on Dogster:

About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox, and A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by). ]]>
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/puppies-are-dicks-book-senior-dog-adoption
<![CDATA[Don't Delete #Puppyspam. Overdose on the Cuteness!]]> Today is National Puppy Day, so how about celebrating the occasion with an overdose of cute puppy pics? Thankfully, that's exactly what the trending Instagram hashtag #puppyspam is all about -- proud dog owners unabashedly showcasing their pups in the cutest poses. Sit back and soak in the eye candy!

This doe-eyed pup hearts his toy monkey.


A photo posted by Amanda Christyne (@ms_sunshine828) on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:19pm PDT


A tilted head and tongue-out combo works for this little dude.


A photo posted by Liam Barkley Smith (@instaliamsmith) on Mar 17, 2015 at 12:34pm PDT


Gotta stay comfy when looking cute!


A photo posted by Emmalea Deigan (@edeigann) on Mar 17, 2015 at 2:37am PDT


Yup, a tongue-out pose always wins on Instagram!


A photo posted by Jess Reason (@onelittlereason) on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:04am PDT


This Maltese/Shih Tzu mix has mastered the selfie game.


A photo posted by Sarah (@sarrraaaaahhhhh) on Mar 17, 2015 at 12:59am PDT


Never be afraid to accessorize when looking to spread some #puppyspam love.


A photo posted by Tara Garrett (@taraagarrett) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:27pm PDT


Sometimes, over-cuteness can induce a state of napping.


It's all about the eyes! Or is it that button-cute nose?


A photo posted by Rhys Malyon (@rhysmalyon) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:57am PDT


This sad smoosh-face is pure #puppyspam.


A photo posted by Jasmine (@jasmine_vincent) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:51am PDT


Yep, you're not gonna see anything cuter than this Lab pup today!


A photo posted by Nikki Robison (@nikki_robison) on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:20am PDT


See more Pix We Love on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/cute-puppy-pictures-instagram-national-puppy-day
<![CDATA[Born With Deformities, Chuda the Husky Puppy Beats the Odds]]> In honor of National Puppy Day, this week's Monday Miracle is a pup who has been beating the odds since the day she was born. Her name means “miracle” in Russian, and little five-month-old Chuda has certainly earned the title as the sole survivor of a litter plagued with severe birth defects. 
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“She is astonishing us on a daily basis,” says Lisa Decker, the director of MisUnderstood Siberian Husky Rescue (MUSH) of Indiana.

“We weren’t expecting her to walk,” she says. “It’s not a productive walk, it’s not a normal walk, but it’s definitely the Chuda walk.”

These days, Chuda is a headstrong puppy, but when Decker first met her, she was just a lucky little newborn in need of rescue. The pup was only a few hours old when Decker got a message from a fellow rescuer who’d noticed a concerning posting in a community garage sale group on Facebook.

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Chuda won't let anything stop her from getting where she wants to go. (Photos courtesy Chuda's Facebook Page)

“Somebody was offering a Husky they’d found who had just given birth that morning to four puppies. She couldn’t keep them and wanted somebody to pick them up,” says Decker, who contacted the poster, despite the fact that she was in another city.

Decker explained why such young puppies shouldn’t be separated, and the dangers of giving dogs away for free online. The woman said she suspected something was wrong with one puppy's mouth, and from what she described, Decker believed the puppy probably suffered from a cleft palate.

“I said if she would allow our rescue to take them, I would contact the vet, and she could drive them directly to the vet,” she remembers. As a MUSH foster home began preparing for a litter of puppies, the Facebook poster arrived at the vet clinic to drop off mama dog Juneau and her babies.

"The vet texted me to say, 'I want you to sit down. I’m getting ready to send you some photos,'" Decker recalls.

"She said, 'You were misinformed when you were told about the puppies problems. I need you to sit down, and these are going to be hard to look at.'"

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Chuda's siblings were very sick, and they suffered from several very severe birth defects.

When the pictures arrived, Decker was shocked to see two puppies with severe cleft palates, missing limbs, and deformed hindquarters.

“The severity of the deformities was pretty breathtaking. None of the vets at the clinic had ever seen a litter quite this severe.”

According to Decker, several vets have since come to consensus that Juneau must have gotten into something toxic very early in her pregnancy.

On the advice of the vet, Decker and the team at MUSH made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize the two most severely deformed puppies. Another pup had died before even arriving at the vet's office.

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Chuda was the only one of Juneau's puppies who came home to foster care.

“And then we had Chuda. At that point, taking pictures of her, we didn’t appreciate any other deformities. Other than her flipper paw we were good to go.”

Little Chuda and mom Juneau were whisked off to a MUSH foster home, where they were in the care of an experienced Husky handler.

“It’s a 24-hour-a-day job with Juneau and Chuda. Mom herself has some behavioral and emotional issues,” Decker says.

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Sleepy Chuda and smiling Juneau share the bed in their foster home.

As Chuda grew, it became apparent that she was not developing normally and was suffering from more birth defects than previously thought. Her spine, ribs, back, legs, tail, and hips were all affected.

MUSH needed to get Chuda in to see a specialist vet, and it started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for some of Chuda’s medical costs as the list of physical challenges got longer and longer.

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At first, Chuda needed a sling to help her stand.

“She has a mild form of spina bifida. The shape of her chest is part of the spina bifida,” says Decker, who adds that Chuda’s chest deformity isn’t obvious in photos, but is clear to anyone who pets her in person.

“Her ribcage severely bellows in and is flat. It pushes her heart and other organs a little lower, towards her diaphragm, so everything she does takes a lot of energy. It’s more work for her heart, it’s more work for her lungs.”

Because Chuda also has a condition known as "swimmer puppy syndrome," she cannot stand or walk normally. MUSH has been helping Chuda get the physical therapy she needs and has helped her get into custom carts -- but Chuda (who is half Siberian Husky, half Golden Retriever) definitely inherited some Husky stubbornness and would rather walk than roll.

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Chuda is not a fan of her cart. She would rather walk her own way.

“She’s figured out that if she stands up and she leans on a wall for her bad hip, she could hop along that wall and not fall down,” explains Decker, who adds that Chuda’s walk has eventually evolved to not involve walls.

“As she’s starting to use her back legs more, we want to see if that’s not maybe a realistic option. Maybe with more physical therapy, maybe she can use her back legs until she gets to an age or a weight where she can’t.”

Unfortunately, due to the way Chuda’s chest cavity is situated, it’s not safe for her to go under anesthesia now. Even if surgery would help her back legs, Chuda likely wouldn’t survive it. It’s possible that her chest may shift as she grows, making surgery possible, but the vets can’t guarantee that will ever be an option.

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No one knows what her future holds, but right now, Chuda is a happy little girl.

“They don’t know what the future holds,” says Decker. “She could be with us for 10 more years, she could be with us for 10 more weeks. We don’t know.”

Chuda’s long-term health may be a question mark, but one thing is certain -- this little puppy is determined. Recently, her foster mom got the shock of a lifetime when she walked up a flight of stairs and turned around to find little Chuda right behind her, climbing away.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/chuda-husky-puppies-birth-defects-special-needs-dogs
<![CDATA[How Do You Know When Your Dog Is Happy?]]> It’s no secret that dogs make humans happier. Their sweet little faces can make even the crankiest people soften. But do we ever stop to think about how we make our furry friends happy in return?

With March 20 being International Happiness Day, I started thinking about how my dog makes me happy every day of the week (most weeks, that is) and how confident I am that I return the favor on the regular. Granted, people always say that Finley looks "so serious" and "intently focused," and that she doesn't "smile" the way some dogs do.

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Finley usually has a look of intent on her face, but that doesn't mean she isn't happy.

To be honest, I see their point. Finley is no jokester. She has a long and prominent snout, giving her the appearance of having high cheekbones. This is paired with deeply expressive brows and penetrating eyes. Unlike some dogs whose faces are mostly hidden behind crazy curls or fluffy fur, Finley’s expressions are strikingly visible. And instead of a lolling tongue like many pooches have, she keeps her mouth tightly shut (and free of slobber) for the most part.

No, my dog certainly isn’t the goofiest tail-wagger on the block. In fact, most casual observers comment that she looks rather stately or regal (which I quickly take as a compliment). While she’s typically bursting with energy, she also has a way of neatly sitting on command and arching her neck to look you straight in the eye -- especially if you have a bit of cheese for her. In other words, she can be a bit of a crowd pleaser.

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My dog will arch her neck to look you straight in the eye. It's intense, but filled with love.

The only non-serious part about my Vizsla is her floppy ears. But even those frequently strike onlookers as tenacious, since they’re typically sailing proudly through the air as she runs at full speed. But despite Finley’s more determined and earnest physical characteristics, I know for a fact that she is simply the happiest dog in the world. Here's how:

1. She slow-blinks when massaged

While she's not the type to roll on her back and offer up a soft belly for some scratches, Finley will always sit perfectly still for a little massage time. She could be zipping around the house like Speedy Gonzales a moment beforehand, but as soon as I sit down and reach out a hand, she stops on a dime and ponies up to her personal masseuse. Be it behind her ears, on the shoulders, or by her haunches, Finley absolutely loves a little rub to soothe those sore muscles. And she goes into a sort of deep trance when she's being massaged: Her eyelids start to flutter and she slow-blinks like a Zen master.

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If you give her a massage, she'll start to slow-blink in utter bliss.

2. She cuddles super closely

There's nothing Finley loves more than body contact. She craves touch more than any dog or human I know. I know she's happiest when she's sandwiched between my husband and me because she literally doesn't move. After squeezing herself between us as tightly as physically possible, she's set for hours. It's the only time she's happy to just be.

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Finley is happiest when she's cuddled up between two people, especially my husband and me.

3. She makes a lot of eye contact

I never knew that a canine could make such consistent eye contact before Finley. I've heard it's the equivalent of a dog giving you a hug, and I'm inclined to believe that. Whenever she gets the chance, Finley looks deep into my eyes and holds my gaze. I can tell she relishes the attention; she's never the first to look away.

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This pup loves making eye contact, with or without glasses.

4. Her tail wags furiously whenever I approach her

Drumming a rhythm against the carpet or her doggy bed, Finley's tail could whip cream if given the chance. Even if we suspect she's quietly sleeping, whenever anyone walks up to her, she immediately perks up -- tail first.

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Her tail is always wagging, especially if you get close to her.

5. She wants to play

This probably goes for most dogs, but for Finley, it seems pretty exaggerated. Upon walking in the door, she immediately grabs a nearby toy and brings it to you, ready to play. And at the end of a long day, even when she's conked out on the floor, if you so much as walk by with something resembling a stuffed animal or rope toy, it's game on.

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A common occurence: Finley wants to play. A rare ocurrence: Finley looks like she's smiling.

So, no, Finley doesn't grin like some dogs or make silly faces worthy of YouTube or Instagram, but I know she's happier than any show-stopping Fido made famous for his laugh-out-loud party tricks. And that, in and of itself, makes me happy, too.

In what ways do you know your dog is truly happy? Let us know in the comments!

Read more by Whitney C. Harris:

About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox, and A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:51:00 -0700 /lifestyle/signs-dog-happiness-vizsla-international-happiness-day
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Make Faces? What Do They Mean?]]> My dog Riggins has more facial expressions than a silent-movie star. It's like Buster Keaton and Rudolph Valentino had a son who just happened to be an adorable black-and-white mutt.

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Riggins stares me down. (All photos by Wendy Newell)

If he was a poker player, he'd lose his money before you could say "all in." If he was a high school student, I'd spend most of my time in the principal's office promising that Riggins would be punished for his constant eye-rolling at the teacher. If he was a bartender, his sweet soft eyes would make him millions in tips. 

With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you just a few of Riggins' classic faces.

1. Doubting his mom 

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"Look lady, I love you and all, but I'm pretty sure you are off your rocker. I mean, seriously, are you okay? Are you running a fever? I'm concerned about your health. Only a sick person would make us hike ALL THE WAY up this giant hill just to turn around and walk back down. So, I ask you again, are you okay?"

2. It wasn't me

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"Hmmm ... what? Are you talking to me? What treats? I have been standing right here this entire time. I had no idea there was a box of treats on the counter. I mean, even if I did, I wouldn't do anything about it. I've never seen that box of treats before. I don't even see it now. I'm not even looking at it, THAT is how much I did not eat that entire box of delicious crunchy yummies. I'm hurt you would even ask."

3. Schoolyard coward

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"Hey there, Mom! I just want to sit in your lap and say hi. I'm not afraid of that bully dog over there. I'm not afraid of him at all! I just wanted to see how you were doing and thought you needed a lap warmer. I'm here for you, not me. I am seriously not afraid of that other dog at all. At all. Ummm ... is he still behind me?"

4. The thespian

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"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Come on Hank, get in character, she is more likely to give us treats if we get in character. You have treats, right?"

5. Focused lover

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"Choo choo! The love train is pulling out of the station. Now everyone be quiet. I'm concentrating."

6. Selfie hater

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"Mom, geeze! Enough with the selfies already. Everyone knows you are my mom. There is no need to post pictures of the two of us all over the Interwebs. You are squishing me. Fine! Cheeeese. Cheeeeeseeeeeeee! Now get off me!"

7. Insecure hiker

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"WHO HAS MY LEASH?!? What the ... are they behind me? WHO IS BEHIND ME?!? This isn't funny, you guys. There is someone right behind me, AND THEY ARE HOLDING MY LEASH. Mom ... Mom ... help me! I can't say anything without causing suspicion so I'm just going to blink S.O.S. in Morse code to you. SHOOT I DON'T KNOW MORSE CODE! I'm going to die."

8. Loyal cuddlebug

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"Mom, I do believe my darling cousin Kira told you that she wanted to be next to me and that you had to get up and leave the bed. Shhh. Don't be sad. There is more than enough of me to go around, but right now is Kira time, so I must ask you to leave."

9. Concerned friend 

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"I saw Shadow go toward that pack of dogs on the other side of the park, and she has yet to come back. This is serious. She left the protection of our sacred picnic table. I told her not to go. I begged her to stay with me, but she has an adventurous spirit that cannot be tied down. I don't know, Mom. I just don't know. This is a tough one. I'm just going to have to sit here for a little bit longer and figure out what we should do."

10. Eager playmate

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"Hey there! You gonna find a ball and throw it for me? Sure, I'm not going to bring it back but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't throw it. I know you're tired and just sat down, but come on -- you wanna throw the ball. For me? Please?"

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Despite all the eye rolls and furrowed brows, I know my baby boy loves me and is always (well, almost always) happy to cuddle up for a selfie with his Mom!

I'm sure Riggins isn't the only pup out there with a variety of facial expressions. Share a picture of your pup's favorite face and tell us what it means in the comments below!

Read related stories by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poop, sacrificing her bed, and with other furry filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-faces-facial-expressions
<![CDATA[One Woman Is Working to Save Mexico's Beach Dogs]]>
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Angelique Schornstein moved from Philadelphia to Todos Santos in Baja California, Mexico, 25 years ago. She has spent her time since working tirelessly to help the dogs and cats of the area live healthier and happier lives through her organization, Amigos de los Animals de Todos Santos (AATS).

"When I came down here to live permanently, I saw the sad state the animals were in," Schornstein says, explaining that the condition of street and beach dogs, as well as family pets, was less than ideal. Sterilization was not a standard practice at the time, and as you can imagine that caused a population of animals who could not be cared for financially by owners and the community. 

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Local dog Chile before being helped by AATS. (All photos courtesy of AATS)

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Chile after!

Schornstein was greatly disturbed by the government's response to the animal overpopulation issue. "I found out that the military, twice a year, would go around and shoot mangy dogs and packs of dogs all over our little town." As an animal lover, she knew she had to find a way to help.

The help Schornstein was able to provide developed into her nonprofit group. AATS focuses its efforts on spay and neuter clinics, animal rescue and adoption, and community education.

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An AATS adoptable pup. (All clinic pictures by Kaia Thomson)

At the center of the group, Schornstein is quick to credit volunteers for all the positive work that is done, although it is clear she is the driving force and is not afraid of hard work. For 15 years, she went every couple of days to feed dogs at two different beaches, get them fixed, and help them get adopted. That work has since been taken over by likeminded people.

AATS' spay and neuter clinics, which now happen twice a year, were originally conducted annually by one vet from California, and at the beginning on a countertop of a friend's house. That vet was a member of the Veterinarians for World Animal Health, a no-longer-active nonprofit group out of California. He helped for three years and, per the group's website, performed 329 surgical sterilization on cats and dogs in Todos Santos from 1999 to 2001.

As soon as the clinics were started, the military stopped shooting dogs. A huge victory, but when VWAH went inactive, Schornstein, once again, had to look for volunteer and vet assistance. 

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A volunteer prepping a dog for surgery.

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Getting help from Dr. Bruce, a volunteer.

At this time, there were no veterinarians in Todos Santos, so she traveled to La Paz and asked every doctor she knew to help her community by volunteering once a week. She was successful in convincing one vet to join the effort. He traveled to Todos Santos every Friday and offered his services in a building provided by Schornstein. It became more than just a place for animals to get medical attention. "It was a social gathering location," she explains. "There was a little bench outside of the office, and people would sit there and wait for the vet."

Now Schornstein says she can rely on a team of 15 to 20 volunteers, whom she identifies as "gringos," who come to help with the twice-annual spay and neuter clinic, manning the MASH unit from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Support also comes from a sister group in the U.S., The Refuge Animal Society.

Schornstein didn't start collecting statistics until 1998, but from that time until 2014, more than 3,300 animals have been sterilized through the efforts of the volunteer-manned clinics.

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Heading to recovery.

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In addition to the special clinic days, the group has paid for more than 2,500 sterilization operations provided by local vets, including the two who are now a permanent part of the area. Raising money to help continue surgeries beyond the clinics is important. As Schnornstein points out, "Two clinics a year is fabulous, but it doesn't eliminate the problem because dogs and cats get pregnant during the year and don't wait for the clinic!"

Schornstein started helping animals when she lived in Philadelphia. "It's my life at this point," she explains. Two dogs and two cats accompanied her to Mexico back in 1990. She admits that she felt bad for bringing more animals to an area she knew had so many in need, but she had made a lifetime commitment to her animals. This commitment is something she takes very seriously, and she works to instill this value in the residents of Todos Santos. 

Education is an important part of the group's work, and Schornstein has found that focusing on teaching through school programs is extremely effective. "It begins with the children. If the children are on board, we are all on board." Once taught that stray puppies and kitties cannot be cared for appropriately, the students will help educate the adults and push to have their family pets sterilized. It seems to be working. "People are becoming more aware of tending to their animals and going to the vet, which is amazing."

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Sweet pup.

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Recovering kitties.

All of this hard work takes money, and the need for more of it -- as well as for additional volunteers -- is dire. The AATS and the Refuge Animal Society are in desperate need of funds for all of this important work and community growth to continue. "We are sort of at a loss, and we are trying to generate funds and not to let this dry up. Our [Todos Santos] streets, considering Mexico as a whole, are very very clean, and you hardly ever see a mangy animal anymore, and that is due to the volunteers." 

Amigos de los Animals de Todos Santos' next clinic is today through Saturday (March 19 to 21). Schornstein is actively looking for volunteer doctors to help with November clinic. To volunteer, visit the group's website, and to donate, go to its GoFundMe page.

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

Read more stories of people helping dogs around the world:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/todos-santos-mexico-dog-rescue-spay-neuter-angelique-schornstein
<![CDATA[As a Dog Trainer, Here Are Three Things I Wish Veterinarians Would Do Differently]]> I adore veterinarians. I also respect and admire them. They are among the hardest-working individuals in the pet-care industry. I call many veterinarians friends, and most of my referrals for dog-training clients come from these fine human beings. Having said that, there are three things that I wish veterinarians would do differently for the sake of dogs everywhere.

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Our trainer LOVES veterinarians! She still wishes they would do a few things differently for their clients.

1. Improve the waiting room

Most veterinarian offices do not provide any kind of visual barrier that stops dogs from seeing (and often lunging) at one another. It is heartbreaking to sit in the wide-open waiting room and watch owners try to corral and control their already stressed-out pets. Going to the vet IS stressful for most dogs, not only because of the many smells in the building but because things veterinarians must do to keep our animals healthy sometimes involve pain. 

Even something as routine as a toenail clip can freak out many dogs. Why add to the dog's (and the owner’s) stress by allowing dogs to stare each other down in the waiting room? I know that veterinarians often stagger their appointment times, such as human doctors do. Nonetheless, every time I have a vet appointment for one of my own dogs or a foster dog, we run into other stressed-out dogs in the waiting room. My own dogs are not reactive, but I don’t want them to have to face off against a dog in the waiting room who is aggressive or overly stressed.  

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This is not how most dogs act while in the veterinarian's waiting room! It would be better for these dogs to have visual barriers and more individual space.

Solution:  Create solid walls, much like a cubicle set up in offices, and allow each dog and owner to wait in the mini stalls. They don’t have to be fully enclosed rooms -- often a visual barrier is enough to keep dogs calm and not lunging at others. Or veterinarians can do what my local wonderful vet does. She has four exam rooms, and right when we arrive for our appointment, we are escorted into our own private room to wait on the vet.  

2. Have a complete understanding of the behavioral impacts of thyroid disease

Obviously I am not a veterinarian, and because of that I do not give medical advice to my dog training clients. I have read, however, a ton of information about how being low in thyroid hormone can have an impact on canine behavior. My knowledge comes from veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, through her groundbreaking book on the subject matter, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answers You Need for Your Dog.

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I work every week with aggressive dogs, and the first thing I ask my clients to do is to get a complete medical checkup with a veterinarian to rule out any possible health condition that may be contributing to aggression. I suggest to some of my clients (based on behavior I observe in the dog) that they ask their veterinarian for a complete thyroid test. At least half of my clients' veterinarians scoff at the client and refuse to do the test. What’s the harm in ruling out a thyroid problem? The client requested a simple blood test that she or he is willing to pay for. Why not thank the dog owner for being involved and do the test?

Here are a few of the potential behavioral impacts a wonky thyroid can have a dog -- from Dr. Dodds’ excellent book: 

  • Fearfulness
  • Whining
  • Nervousness
  • Schizoid behavior
  • Aggression
  • Disorientation
  • Erratic Temperament
  • Hyperactivity
  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Submissiveness
  • Compulsiveness
  • Irritability 

Solution: Help those of us who do work with unwanted canine behavior issues and run a complete thyroid test when an owner requests it. Ruling out a potential medical reason for behavior changes is smart, compassionate, and the only fair thing to do for an animal who can’t speak up and tell us how he is feeling inside.   

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The non-speaking veterinarian customer could have an improved visit to see their doctor.

3. Understand canine behavior

How much does your veterinarian know about canine behavior? They are required to study it in order to become a DVM, right? Not so fast. The general answer is NO; understanding canine behavior is not a requirement for graduating from most U.S. vet schools. I’ve asked the veterinarians I know -- they range from fresh out of school to being in their late-60s -- if they had to take even one class in animal behavior to become a veterinarian, and they all say no, although some schools include one elective course. 

I called a few veterinary schools to see for myself what is required. The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine reports: “There is currently a one-hour course on animal behavior in the first year.” You read that correctly: a one-hour course! The school's spokeswoman added, “Because of the importance of this area in veterinary medicine, a prerequisite in basic psychology was added a few years ago for students applying to our college.” 

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in California does a little more, requiring one week of behavior training in the first year of vet school. Its spokesperson says that in the third year, “Students taking the small-animal emphasis have a three-week integrated block that is Wellness/Behavior/Nutrition.” It’s better than most schools do, but because behavior is such a complicated subject matter and can be so instrumental in reaching the right diagnosis, it would seem every veterinarian should be well versed on it. 

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Every small animal veterinarian should read this important book.

Solution: Require vet students to graduate with a broad knowledge of how animals learn and a solid knowledge of behavior. Require students to (at least!) read and be tested on these books written by veterinarians: Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Karen Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB, CAAB. This brilliant doctor has more upper-level degrees than anyone I’ve ever met! She is a champion for animals, and she has said her life’s mission is to help fellow veterinarians understand the importance of animal behavior in veterinary medicine.

Also require veterinary students to read the late Dr. Sophia Yin’s book Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavioral Modification of Dogs and Cats: Techniques for Developing Patients Who Love Their Visits.  

I have one final request that may seem small but is, in fact, huge. I wish veterinarians would ditch the boring, dry dog biscuits some hand out in the exam room to their patients. Bravo for having a treat, but in order to have a canine prayer of pairing a dog’s experience at the vet’s with a good thing, it actually has to be a good-tasting thing. Replace those dry biscuits with dehydrated meat and see how many tail wags that creates in your patients!  

Do you feel the same as I do about these issues? Tell us in the comments what you love most about your veterinarian and one thing you wish he or she would do differently.

Read more by Annie Phenix: 

About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.  
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/veterinarian-veterinary-school-dog-behavior-training