Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

Should you choose your dog’s friends?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Probably not. Arranged friendships are fairly perilous.  When I was in primary school, my grandmother had high hopes I’d befriend the children of people she approved of. We both ended up disappointed.

Unsuccessful photo session 1.

Perhaps for similar social, demographic, geographic reasons, we hope our dogs make friends with our friends’ dogs.  That way, everybody can have a good time at summer get togethers.  And the photo ops will be so charming.

Well dream on…  In our house, we have always hoped that Raja and the lovely Coco Bella would hit it off like peas and carrots.  We humans all get along just fine.  At our socials however, Raja and Coco Bella occupy different social strata.

Michelle and I are friends; why can't Bella and Raja just get along?

That’s right.  If he’s on the floor, she hops from couch to table to tuffet to chair, always at least 8 inches above his head.  When she comes down from the heights, he goes up. He even gives up his dinner to her if she even glances at it.  Maintaining distance is everything.

Who is Coco Bella’s special friend?  We don’t know if she has made her choice yet, but Raja’s friend is the lab next door.  Oh yes, they do look like the odd couple.  Ginger’s tall; he’s small.  She walks through puddles and rolls in the mud; he wears boots and outerwear.  She occasionally eats a stone or a bug.  He hardly even eats his food.  She’s submissive; he’s dominant.  What?  Yes, that’s how it goes.  He chooses the route and the pace.  If he barks, she sits.  If he stops, she lies down.  And if I pick him up, she cries at me until I give him back.

"I know who I like and who likes me."

But, hey, they’re happy together and, even though Ginger is six times Raja’s weight, she plays appropriately with him.  He has a strong sense of self preservation and doesn’t choose to hang with a rough crowd, either.  Well, last month he was attacked by a bantam Papillion, but Raja’s hair trigger flinch and sideways hop saved him from the goofy little nipper.  He didn’t really see it coming that time, but the Papillion was incapable of inflicting too much harm at any level.

So this summer at the dog park, as long as your dog seems to be aware of his surroundings and his options and all the dogs seem to be playing nice, you probably shouldn’t try to make your dog be friends with the dogs or people you like.  You choose who you want to hang with and leave that important decision of choosing a best doggy friend to your dog.

Update on Cy: Cy is doing much better.  He has an evaluation for his disk at a sports clinic this weekend as well as an agility session with his teacher.  Cy’s getting back on track!  Thanks to everyone who worried about him!

Raja and Roses in Portland

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Usually when we’re in Portland, Raja and I visit friends or hike or visit a nursery (it’s the seed and plant capital of the USA) or shop the Pearl.  But this time, with limited time and taking advantage of finally being in Portland at the right time of the year… we visited the …

International Rose Test Garden

The oldest garden of its kind in the USA, the test gardens are public and, yes, dogs are actually allowed to trot about throughout all five acres.  There are roses the size of a dime (really) and roses bigger than Raja’s head…. Antique roses, primitive roses, hybrid teas, climbing monsters and long stemmed American Beauties.  And the history of the garden is tied in to the history of America and its international relations.  In the late 1800’s, the rose exhibition was a private event for Portland’s moneyed society to show off their flowers (and clothes and marriageable children).  The test garden was established in 1917 and became immediately internationally relevant when famous gardens all over Europe sent rose varieties there to be sheltered from the ravages of WWI.  Portland high society still distinguishes itself by becoming knights and dames of the fictional land of roses, Rosaria.  But everybody, can enjoy the gardens, and there have been more marriage proposals per square foot there than under Eiffel Tower.  

While Raja was not asked to be a Royal Dog of Rosaria, he honestly didn’t mind since he, and many other dogs of Portland, were having a beautiful stroll on rose petals and soft grass.  A leash is required, but I think it’s primarily to protect the dogs.  Some of those roses have appalling thorns.  But all are gorgeous.  If you come from the hot and humid regions of the US, you probably think that Japanese beetle-nibbled runt hanging off the side of that black and thorny stick in your garden is a rose.  You have been misled.  Go to Portland to see what a rose is all about. 

In many parts of the world a garden this glorious and this well manicured might be off limits to dogs, wrong as that idea seems.  So, if you are in Portland, Oregon in June, take Fluffy and Fido to the International Rose Test gardens, conveniently located near downtown at 400 SW Kensington St.    Admission is free!

Hot Dog! Summertime Fun in the Sun

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Don’t know what you have going in your communities in summer, but by the end of this summer Raja will have been to a bike race, a strawberry festival, numerous little league and softball games, various yard sales, a 4 H fair, a harvest festival at the peach farm, and had scores of hikes.  That’s about average for a normal community. 

The good thing about outside summer events is that dogs are usually welcome, but the bad thing is the possibility for heat exhaustion where shade and cool down are not provided.  Dogs that are overweight, have heart and lung trouble, or are subject to seizures should stay out of the heat.  Excursions in the early morning or after sundown are best for them.  Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with very wide heads and short noses) should also be wary of heat.  

Raja is a brachycephalic Shih Tzu (along with the Pug, American Bull Dog, Pekingese and many others); we’re very careful about having heat reducing methods ready in advance.  Here is a list of heat reducers that help us travel in  the humidity of summer and the relentless sun of the desert.  You could say nobody needs to be warned about heat for dogs any more, but last weekend Raja and I had to tell some  mindless people that their frantic Bichon was near heat stroke, so I think we need to keep the topic rolling.  And if you readers have any more suggestions, please just post them in using the comments section.  I will moderate all on-topic comments in daily. 

  1. Never fail to carry water which can be used as a drink or a cooling splash down the neck and back.  (Raja likes the Evian water mister for his nose, but it’s just not that eco friendly, is it?)
  2. A frozen water bottle (3/4 full) can be slid into a sock and used as a pillow for a dog resting in the heat under a shady tree.  You can even hold your dog’s paws against the sides of the bottle for short periods for a quick chill-thrill.
  3. Similarly, that frozen bottle can be set on its side in a travel bag, airline transport bag or other front or side carried doggie carrier to create a personal air conditioner when out and about.  (If you use the frozen bottle to transport a pet to the airport in his in-cabin carrier, remember to remove it on the plane.  Most airplane floors are chilly and the bottle could make your pet miserable in flight.)
  4. Re-chillable, flexible cooler ice blankets (available at most camping equipment stores and sites) can be carried to a picnic in the cooler and then can be double purposed as a relaxing mat for your dog throughout the day.  (Raja’s friend Demon Flash Bandit the Siberian Husky shared this suggestion.)
  5. Similarly, these mats, if they are made of individual cells, can be trimmed to fit inside a travel bag to be set under the bottom pad as a constantly cool (but never cold) bottom for shopping dogs who are being transported about town. 
  6. Battery operated fans are great for wicking away heat for resting dogs that are relaxing in the shade.  (Thanks to teacup agility champions Chloe and Cara for this tip.)
  7. Shops that sell clothes for construction and line workers often sell inexpensive neck bandannas filled with water-absorbing polymer crystals.  Buy two.  Small dogs can wear them on hot days wrapped just behind the withers and tied behind the front legs.  You can put yours around your neck.  I like it when Raja’s and mine match.
  8. The water soakable, heat wicking vests you can buy on dog product sites work so well to keep the core cool, but remember to refresh the vests often with fresh water.  Raja loves his in Sedona in summer.  For agility dogs during trials, consult your vet about using the cooling vests.  Raja’s vet’s office (Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Services in Madison, New Jersey) says wearing these vests on seething summer days out and about, hiking and playing is safe and beneficial.  (Be careful to get the right size.  The water increases their weight and you wouldn’t want a 4 pound Chihuahua in a 10 pound vest.  Slows them down terribly.) 

OK, everybody, pack your chill gear and get going!

Raja and Dog Jaunt double team for pet travel!

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Many thanks to Dog Jaunt for asking us to guest blog this week. Dog Jaunt is a wonderful resource for people who want to take their small dog along with them, on trips of any length.  Dog Jaunt stars, Chloe, the beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!  Look for an expert guest blog about the famous street food of Seattle, Washington on our site from Mary-Alice Pomputius of Dog Jaunt in June!

Please check out our article:  And don’t forget to keep in your sights for small dog travel resources and evals!

Your Dog’s Park

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Urban dogs, suburban dogs who love to run, dogs on trips all need a park.  This post, Raja and I want to invite our readers to contribute stories about their favorite parks… where are they and what’s so nice about them?  Here’s how you do it:  Scroll down to the end of this post.  See the phrase “Share your thoughts, comment here!”?  That’s where you do it.  Just click and type.  This comments section is exactly the same as before…with one little essential exception.  Your comment won’t appear right way (but I’m working on that).  I have to moderate them… NOT so I can only put up comments I find flattering, oh no (Raja and I uphold free speech), but to keep the spam crawlers from advertising pills on our comments page.  (You don’t want that either.) 

Raja’s favorite park is Duke Island Park in Raritan, New Jersey.  Although the goose population is excessive in some seasons, he loves the big trees, the rustic trail by the river and the short commute to get there. 

His second favorite park is Fox Hills Park in Culver City, California.  Well, dogs aren’t allowed there- big mistake- but nobody checks.  It’s just a scruffy little town park… what’s the big deal?  Anyway, he loves the plateau with the soft grass and shady spots. 

Other city parks Raja likes include Parco Ninfeo di Nerone in the middle of Rome right near the Coliseum.  It’s got some lovely views, but it isn’t all that well kept or daunting for a dog who just wants to play.  Many Roman dogs play there off leash.  (The fallen columns aren’t all that sacred there either.)

He also likes Russian Hill Park on Bay Street in San Francisco.  There’s nothing to it except a long stretch of grass with some casual landscaping on the hill in the back, but it’s the perfect little run for a small dog to stretch his paws while going about town. 

Where’s your dog’s favorite park?