A beautiful day for a picnic

AZ RESCUE, an organization I wrote about a couple of times recently, hosted their annual Adopter’s Picnic and Reunion yesterday. Hubby and I went because we are Adopter’s of the feisty and sweet King Lukas.

Thanks to Jennifer Berry and all the volunteers for hosting such a great day! It was a grand time reuniting with Lukas’s foster parents, and watching The Big L strut his stuff in his kingly robes.

Below are photos from the day:

This is what a face looks like surrounded by love.

Happiness is reuniting with people who loved you back to life.

A parade of dogs marched the land in their best costumes. The tiny “skeleton” in the foreground recently survived a major surgery and is doing great, thanks to the love and care of her foster-mom-cum-forever-mom.

Proud, strutting puppies!

King Lukas surveys the land in all his costumed glory.

King Lukas carries his ruby tipped scepter, which can also be used as a squeaky toy when he gets bored.

The king was proudest at seeing his fellow brothers and sisters in rescue–all happy, all with shiny coats and fully bellies, all at home and surrounded by love with people who care what happens to them.

When the costume parade was complete, we all sat together in the shade on a gorgeous day.

King Lukas was surrounded by his loving families — the family that brought him back to life and the family that has committed to be there for him for the rest of it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Family photo! Is it me, or does Lukas appear to be giggling?

Dog Hymn

by Janice Bressler

God made Adam, then Eve
for obvious reasons

and hoped they would love, honor, comfort each other

Seeing it would likely not last forever,
given Adam’s appetite for conquest,
and Eve’s hunger to converse,
God made Dog.

God gave Dog
the ability to love without speech
and delight in chasing things
without the need to catch or accumulate.

God gave Dog too
a fiercely loyal heart,
a quiet respect for human tears,
and an inclination to sleep curled up
at the foot of the bed.

We all know,
of course,
that Adam and Eve
betrayed God,
deceived each other,
and so were banished from the Garden.

But remember, and give thanks:
because God is compassionate,
he sent Dog with them.

Published in the September/October issue of The Bark Magazine.

Traveling dog

We have returned from our first road trip with King Lukas and I am happy to report he did great! In fact, since we’ve been home, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him humming this Johnny Cash tune.

Perhaps he hasn’t been everywhere, but the first trip out was such a success that we see no reason why he can’t join us on other adventures.

The drive from Phoenix to San Diego was six hours. Lukas slept about five of those, if not more. I was thankful we thought to put his doggie bed in the car with us before latching him into the seat with his seatbelt extender. He stayed there for most of the ride.

Mr. Lukas slept a good part of the way to San Diego.

Minutes after we got to our vacation rental, Lukas felt right at home. He was a little uncertain at first–very excited to race down the street to take care of business and to walk out some of the kinks in his elbows and knees from sitting for so long–but soon we were inside, relaxing together on the couch.

We made it!

Once we got settled in, we started a tradition that would carry us through the rest of the week–a walk down to the park that sits along the shore. We did this first thing in the morning and right after dinner every night. Not a bad way to start and end each day! Lukas, of course, loved it!

A walk by the beach at sunset after dinner.

A gorgeous sunset in La Jolla.

Lukas could care less about the sunset. He was excited by all the new smells!

I, on the other hand, kept falling behind in our walk because I kept taking pictures.

We did the same route in the mornings. And, yes, I got behind then too. It’s just too beautiful not to stop and enjoy!

One more for the road.

Although Lukas enjoyed our road trip together, he does seem a little more content to be at home. We’d like to think, though, that he enjoys being wherever we are. It’s sure hard to see that face and think otherwise.

Love bug.

Perfection found in the love of a rescue dog

Perfection comes in all shapes and sizes. For me it comes in the form of a rescue dog.

The Great Experimenters

I am learning that mutual love is the most healing kind of love.

My spiritual director once caught me in the act of putting myself down for something, some inadequacy, some imperfection I had started digging at to get rid of. She asked me to imagine a baby bird sitting in a nest in my hands. She asked me to look at that baby bird and tell her what I saw.

“A baby bird,” was my response, but it wasn’t the answer to the question she was really asking.

“Is the bird imperfect?” she asked. “Is there something wrong with it?”

“No,” I replied. “Of course there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a baby bird.”

“Then how come a baby bird can be born so perfectly the way it should be, but you can’t?”

I have sat with this image and embraced its lesson whenever I discover that I am…

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Jennifer Berry puts passion into animal rescue

With thanks to Jennifer Berry and all those at RESCUE for putting your passion to work for the sake of others. Your work saves the lives of thousands of animals and brings fullness to the people who adopt them. Without you, there would be far less joy in the world and far more sadness. I know, because my own life was less complete without the joy of knowing Lukas.

The Great Experimenters

Jennifer Berry arrives at the Maricopa County Animal Shelter filled with dread. It is August and, even at 8:30 in the morning, the temperatures are close to 100. She opens the door of her van and, as she steps out, is hit by the heat like the blast from an oven door. Her thoughts go immediately to the dogs and cats inside the shelter. If it’s hot outside, it means the animals are hot too. If it’s cold, so are they. And if there was a thunderstorm the night before, she knows the animals will have been terrified the entire night, with no one to comfort them.

She looks at the building in front of her. A sprawling, one-story cement structure painted surprisingly cheerful oranges and blues. Lining out the door are people with dogs panting on leashes or cats meowing in cages. She does not know whether the people…

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Have dog, will travel: 10 items to pack when traveling with Rover

Our first road trip with the new furry family member is scheduled for next week! We’re headed back to San Diego, which is about six hours from Phoenix by car. This will be a way to see if Pup can handle longer trips next summer.

So far, he seems amenable to riding in the car.

Doggie is fastened and ready to go!

It’s been a while since we’ve traveled with a four-legged friend, and it took some time to compile a packing list. I figured I can’t be the only one trying to remember everything a dog needs when he travels, so I am sharing my list of 10 items to pack when traveling with your dog:

1. Seatbelt clip

One end of this seatbelt clicks into a regular seatbelt lock. The other end clips into the ring on Fido’s harness. It gives him some freedom of movement in the car, but not enough that he goes flying off the seat should you need to hit the brakes quickly.

Nylon car Safe-T-Belt clips into standard car seatbelt locks and onto your dog’s harness.

2. Microchip

This little rice-sized microchip carries your contact information should your pet become lost. Almost all vets, shelters, and pounds in the United States have a microchip scanner, so if a good samaritan takes your pet to one of these locations, or if the city pound picks her up, all they have to do is scan her back to find out how to contact you.

The microchip is injected in between your dog’s shoulder blades at a vet’s office. The cost varies per veterinarian, but it averages about $45 per pet. Home Again charges an annual fee of $18 to maintain membership, but having the peace of mind is worth it.

In the video below, Betty White provides some helpful information about microchipping your pet.

3. Leash and Harness

This is probably obvious, but it’s an important one for keeping Trixie safe whenever she is outside of the car, hotel, or vacation rental. Even well-trained dogs that normally walk off-leash can become overstimulated by new surroundings, so it’s a good idea to leash them up when traveling. Our particular dog is hard of hearing, so he can never go outside of a fenced yard without a leash.

A harness is a good option for most dogs because it doesn’t press against the trachea and cause them to choke.

4. Poopy bags

As a citizen of the world that lives with other citizens of the world, it only makes sense to carry poopy bags wherever you take your dog. No one likes looking at or potentially stepping in dog waste. Plus, because it is used by flies and other small creatures as a place to raise a family, as it breaks down and gets absorbed into puddles, ponds, and lakes, it can be a source of giardia, a nasty parasite that can take its toll on human and canine stomachs, should it be ingested during swim breaks or lapped up by a thirsty pup.

Our favorite doggie bags are the BioBags Dog Waste Bags. They decompose rapidly in the landfill. At the very least, we all have access to plastic bags from the grocery store. Those can also be used to clean up after your dog.

BioBags for Pet Waste.

5. Water bottle with built-in bowl

The Water Rover is a convenient way to carry water for your pooch when you’re out and about. The lid has a built-in bowl. When you pop the stopper and lean the bottle over, water pours into the bowl for your dog. When you’re ready to get back on the road, just tilt the bottle upright to let the water wash back into the bottle. Press the stopper back in place and you’re ready to go! It is also dishwasher safe!

Water Rover water bottle comes in a variety of sizes and colors.

6. Kibble + Treats

Pack up an airtight container of kibble to last the trip so you don’t have to race around to find a pet food store and your dog doesn’t have to get used to a new brand of kibble, should his brand be unavailable. It’s a good idea to throw in a measured scoop as well so, even if you’re overeating on vacation, Max can keep his sporty canine physique.

Favorite treats, especially those made by local barkeries, are helpful for those times when he needs extra motivation to get back in the car, or just as an additional treat while you enjoy your own lunch on the road.

Our favorite barkeries are Furbabies and Happy Tails. Furbabies Delectable Delights are available through their online store or in select Whole Foods. Happy Tails also has an online store, or if you’re local to Phoenix, they are at the Gilbert Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

7. Paper towels + beach towel or blanket

Paper towels come in handy to clean up muddy paws, drippy jaws, and anything else that needs mopping up.

According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a traveler should never leave home without a towel and that goes double for traveling with your dog. It can be used as a blanket. It can be folded and used as a bed or pillow. And, of course, it can be used to towel off a dog that has just come from romping in the lake, ocean, or pool.

8. Favorite toys

Having familiar things around, especially favorite toys, may cut down on a dog’s anxiety while traveling. It will also give him something to chew on, squeak, and destroy when he becomes restless from sitting in the car too long.

Playing with a familiar toy can ease anxiety for a dog.

9. Crate and/or Doggie bed

Whether your dog’s favorite spot is inside her crate or curled up in her special bed, don’t forget to bring it along on trips. It will help all of you rest easier during the trip and cut down on stress-related issues that might arise from your dog’s nervousness at being in a new place.

10. Scheduled stops along the way

Of course, you’ll need to include some stops along the way for potty breaks and to stretch the legs.

Look out world! Here we come!

Can you think of anything I’ve forgotten? How do you travel with your pooch?