Tips for Helping Your Dog Relax

September 19th, 2013

There are plenty of reasons why we love our dogs unconditionally– they’re fun to throw the ball around with and, whether your dress them up or not, they’re always adorable! When you’re at your lowest moment, your dog is the loving friend you need most; however, there are times when our patience is pushed to the limit.

Dogs have a tendency to become hyperactive– and a hyper dog will likely annoy you and take their energy out on your furniture, but did you know that your dog’s agitation could lead to health risks? It is important to take all the steps you can to getting your dog to relax.

Physical Exercise

In many ways, dogs are like people. When you exercise, you expend energy that could lead to a restful sleep. Your dog has tons of extra energy. He’ll fidget and jump all over the furniture, especially if he’s stuck alone in the house all day. If you take your dog on a walk once a day (at least) and throw the ball around, he’ll wear himself out.

Depending on how old your dog is, the suggested amount of physical exercise may vary. A good rule of thumb is to give your pup the opportunity of structured play for about 15-20 minutes, twice per day. Structured play activities include fetch, hunting for food or a variety of K-9 Nose Work games.

Mental Challenges

It isn’t enough to exercise your dog’s body– a dog’s mind also needs its own workout. There are puzzles specifically designed with the canine’s mental health in mind. Boredom is part of the reason why a dog will act out, so puzzles will placate him. Dog TV is a new channel that was created for the healthy stimulation of a dog’s mind too.

Food carrier toys are also great to keep your dog’s mind active. As dogs are natural foragers, they will likely enjoy working to get their food.


Dog’s have a tendency to get stressed out. This anxiety causes them to act out, so veterinarians often recommend bully sticks so that your dog will have something to take out their nervous energy on. It will also give your dog something to do while relaxing, and they can chew on the bully stick for hours.

Wall Fountain

The soothing sound of water has, in the past, proven itself to work wonders on relaxing dogs. By installing a wall fountain in your dog’s favorite part of the house, you can ensure that he becomes more restful. The quiet, peaceful sound of running water will help calm the dog without being an annoying distraction for the rest of the family.


Sometimes the hyperactive dog needs a little assistance; a trainer can teach you and your dogs tricks that will make him happier without any of the destructive elements of restlessness. He will also get the chance to socialize with other dogs, which will allow him to use up that pent-up energy. It’s a surefire way to get your dog back on the relaxed path.

When dogs have the proper direction and skills to get what they wants, you’ll find that they are much calmer overall.


A poor diet is often the root of bad behavior in a pooch. If your dog isn’t getting all the essential nutrients, he could have mood swings, aggression and hyperactivity, which can possibly lead to biting. Protect yourself and your dog by researching the right food for your dog’s breed.

If you are providing your dog with a commercial diet, you will want to look for a diet that does not include grains, such as corn, wheat and soy, in which the first few ingredients are meat products. You might also want to consider giving your dog fresh meat and vegetables every so often in order to enhance his/her diet.

Don’t Reinforce Bad Behavior

The worst thing you can do for your dog is reward him when he’s done something bad. When your dog destroys something or is loud and disruptive, you don’t want to start playing with him and give him a treat. You are only showing him that the destructive cries for attention work. If you only reward good behavior, you’ll start to see an overall improvement.

If you are having a difficult time keeping your dog in one place, try these tips at home and you may very well see an improvement in his or her behavior.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer, business owner and has two Great Danes of her own. As they’re naturally quite large, keeping them relaxed is imperative! You can find more tips like these by following her on Facebook.



Travel by Design: Summer Road Trip with Your Dog! by B. Malibu

August 20th, 2012

Hello Everyone,


Well, we’re in the thick of summer and no doubt you’re probably ready to get away for bit.  Here’s a great idea that I’m sure will work for you, your family, and your dog.  The best adventures and best times, as I’m sure everyone would agree, are the times that include the love and companionship of your dog.  Plan an awesome Summer or Autumn road trip with your dog!

A very affordable, and super fun option is to plan a getaway for a three or four day weekend, and to someplace altogether new, or on the flip-side, someplace totally comfortable, familiar, and easy.  Either way, I recommend a Summer or Fall road trip with your dog, and that includes all of the fun and goodies that go along with it!  Choose a vacation destination far enough away whereas you’ll definitely know you’re not home, but a place that’s not too far away either. Consider perhaps a destination anywhere from 100 – 300 miles from home (give or take 50 miles on either side) and block the day out to drive and get there. Plan to travel at a leisurely pace and enjoy the drive. I highly recommend visiting to select the perfect hotel for you and your doggie.  All hotels in the Absolutely Pet-Friendly Travel database search (there are 28,000!!) are pet-friendly.

Back to planning your getaway adventure!  Naturally, you’re going to need to take off from work and/or day-to-day responsibilities for three or four days, choose your destination City, get your hotel room booked, and then set your estimated time of departure.  If you’re looking at five or six hours in the car with your pooch, plan for safety (no riding in your lap!), have plenty of water for everyone, and plan roadside breaks accordingly, based on your dog’s “schedule”.  Waste bags are essential, and it’s always great to have some paper towels on hand in case of any mess. Always use designated rest stops, have your dog leashed when out of the car, and make sure he drinks water while taking a break from the car.  Another important thing to be aware of at rest areas are other travelers and their dogs.  Rest areas (whether official or makeshift rest areas) are unfamiliar for everyone, and dogs don’t act like themselves, especially if they see other people and dogs.  You know your dog; you just have to be aware is all.

Safety in any unfamiliar environment is paramount; please pay special attention to traffic wherever you go and wherever you are, especially if you yourself are not used to traffic or if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  One other rule that’s absolutely critical when traveling is that your dog must always have a collar on 24/7 (in the car, in a hotel room, always) with and ID dog tag (plain, casual, bejeweled, artsy, couture, or - – whatever your dog likes to wear!).  When you arrive at the hotel, check-in and have your dog with you on leash.  Always make sure you introduce your dog to the front desk staff so they get to know him.  Most hotel staffs will go out of their way to say hello to your doggie as you “come and go” and some will even spoil your dog with unrelenting attention (this is not so bad, right?!).  Housekeeping staff, not so much.  As necessary, you should have housekeeping come when you and your doggie are out on an excursion.  All pet-friendly hotels love dogs.  Be sure to make arrangements with housekeeping regarding your stay and make them aware that you have a dog and they’ll be happy to accommodate you. You don’t need to be shy or coy.  Who knows, maybe you and your dog will make a lot of new friends on your trip!

Now, you definitely want to bring your dog’s own food (keeps him regular; you don’t want your dog to have an upset stomach on vacation, it’s not pretty), a water and food bowl, a toy or two, and his dog bed, unless he normally sleeps with you in the bed, which is more often the case than not with people and their dogs. If you forget anything or have any special needs that may arise, the front desk should be able to guide you or offer recommendations for a pet store, a veterinarian, or whatever.  Also check hotel’s pet policy – - – they explain most things you need to know, or of course, you can call ahead to get the scoop on the  hotel’s pet policies, guidelines, and additional fees (if any).  Note: some hotels provide basic amenities (bowls, treats, blankets, and beds) which means you don’t have to schlep them along.  Inquire about pet amenities at registration and always ask for them!  It’s one perk that your doggie deserves – - – it’s his vacation too!  Once you reach your hotel and get situated after check-in, get the lay of the land and let your dog do the same.  He’ll probably be as excited to be there as you are!  So, let the fun and adventure begin!  Take a nature walk, go to the beach, walk along the streets and shops, go to a magnificent city park, swim in the lake together, whatever - – - it’s all fun no matter what you do because your dog is with you.  If you have to leave your dog in the room and he tends to bark, you may want to look into a “dog nanny service” recommended by the hotel or have someone (official, qualified, and trained hotel staff only!) check on the dog periodically and walk him so he can do his business.  If this isn’t an option, by all means, keep the dog with you.  I do not recommend taking your dog to a local day care – - – this is way too traumatic for dogs.  It’ll ruin your trip and probably his.  Worse yet, all you’ll do is worry about your dog while you’re out trying to have fun.  You know you can’t get enough of each other anyway, and it’s so much more fun to explore and experience new things together.  Be sure to see if the hotel you’re going to be staying at has a “yappy hour” or other people / canine social events or activities.  They’re a blast!

One other note, some hotels charge a deposit or a “stay / or cleaning” fee or a nightly charge.  Some don’t have any extra fees relating to your dog at all. Keep in mind that it’s typically less expensive to bring your dog with you than to put them in a kennel or pay for a dog / house sitter.  Go for it!  I suggest you always bring your dog with you!  Experience the love of travel and adventure with your dog!

Where to go on your trip you might ask?  So many choices:  the beach, the mountains, urban downtowns, chic resorts, lake villages, quaint out-of-the way towns, national parks, the desert, mega resorts, etc.  My dogs (see the “Super Seven” above) love the city, the city parks, and all the people and the hustle and bustle of an urban city. What I know they love the most is the attention they get from all the shop owners, the hotel staff, and passers-by.  A great thing to do is to have a cocktail on some fabulous patio overlooking the beach or golf course, to lounge on a terrace overlooking an urban avenue, or to sit out on a deck looking up at the mountains or the starry night.  Regardless of where you are, look for eating establishments and bars that have pet-friendly areas. It’s just plain awesome to be part of a dog’s life, isn’t it?

Traveling with your dog is truly a wonderful experience.  So is traveling with 2 or even 7 (I know!).  You’ll have memories of your trip for a lifetime.

Is there anything possibly holding you back or that you’re anxious about?  Don’t be.  Any issues that arise along the way, you’ll be able to handle.  Your road trip will be just one more life adventure you have as a family that will stick with you for a long time, probably forever.

You can even call recommended hotels directly with any questions or concerns, or just to find out how much fun you can expect to have!.  Lastly, and by all means, relax and enjoy yourself.  This is what life is all about.

Wonderful travels and have a great trip!

Next time, we’ll explore another, new aspect of “Life Loving Dogs”.  Stay tuned.

And, one more “last” thing (really, this is the last “last” one), always support the National Canine Cancer Foundation.  They love and need your involvement and support.

Tails up!

P.S.  Be sure to take lots of pictures on your trip!  Coming soon!  Absolutely Pet-Friendly Travel is going to be hosting a venue for you to showcase (and maybe compete!) your images and travel videos!!!  How exciting is that?!

Summary check list of items to bring for your dog.  I suggest you keep it very basic, simple and light.

collapsible travel water bowl

water bowl

food bowl

dog food (only your dog’s brand)

treats (your dog’s usual treats)


dog bed (if your dog uses one)

waste bags

paper towels

dog crate (if normally used)

Smile for a Cure Top Fundraiser – Kelly Schulze of Mountain Dog Photography

May 3rd, 2012

This week’s spotlight is on another of our Smile for a Cure photographers – Kelly Schulze.  Kelly was the top fund raiser in the first Smile for a Cure promotion in 2011.

Smile for a Cure Bo and Delilah by Mountain Dog Photography

Smile for a Cure Bo and Delilah by Mountain Dog Photography

Name of business

Mountain Dog Photography in Monkton, Vermont

Favorite subjects to shoot

Animals of course! Wild and domestic animals provide a continuous challenge.

Are you exclusively a dog photographer or do you do other subjects?

I’ve photographed dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, a yak, chickens, llamas, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, snakes, and lizards for clients. For private clients though dogs seem to be the most popular subject. I shy away from the term “pet photographer” as many of my clients own livestock, which they don’t consider pets. I also photograph wildlife.

How did you become interested in photography?

I was always interested in photographing my own animals, even at a young age. My father is an avid amateur photographer and my grandfather was a professional photographer in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I studied a bit more in college, but the thought of becoming a professional animal photographer never even crossed my mind until after I graduated and realized that I needed to find a career that I loved. I did a lot of research and found that other photographers were specializing in animals, so I figured I could too.

Why did you chose to include dogs/pets in your business?

I had a lot of animals growing up – cats, dogs, rats, gerbils, hamsters, and horses. I volunteered at an animal shelter, attended an agricultural high school, majored in Animal Science in college, worked as a veterinary technician, and worked as a dairy records specialist and milk tester. I’ve worked with a wide range of animals my whole life… there was no “non-animal” option for my career. I left my dairy career a year and a half ago to go full time with photography.

Smile for a Cure Session for Charlotte Willis and Jack by Mountain Dog Photograph

Smile for a Cure Session for Charlotte Willis and Jack by Mountain Dog Photograph

Why did you join Smile for a Cure?

The first two dogs my family had, Tristan the golden retriever and Samantha the lab/golden mix, died within two weeks of each other from different cancers. Tristan had malignant melanoma and it was a fast moving, devastating disease. Samantha’s cancer was never diagnosed because by the time we knew she was sick, it was too late to treat her. Many of my clients know the same heartbreak. One in particular lost their beloved Hannibal, a sheltie, early last summer. He had about 3 weeks from diagnosis to the end of his life. I was very close to Hannibal and saw him often, so when the Smile program started last summer I wanted to find another way of honoring him. The Smile For a Cure program lets me use my talent to do some good. We all hope that cancer is eradicated, but easing the treatment process is just as important. I appreciate that the NCCF supports research to cure cancer and to find better treatments.

Tell us your favorite Smile for a Cure session story.

I photographed 3 Smile sessions with a total of 10 dogs. They were all such different sessions. Delilah and Bilbo were special because Delilah was Hannibal’s best friend. The family adopted Bilbo last summer and it was bittersweet because I wished more than anything that Hannibal was my model, but Bilbo had such infectious puppy energy and has helped Delilah heal. Charlotte, Jack Maroo, and Willis were special because Charlotte is a cancer survivor. She lost a front leg, but she doesn’t let it slow her down. One portrait of Jack from that session recently earned me a blue ribbon at a print competition. My last session was with 5 newfies; Neeka, Ruby, Sparrow, Marley, and Mr. Spatz. Neeka is the mother of the others and all are beautiful dogs with wonderful personalities. The day of their portrait session threatened to rain and dark clouds loomed overhead. We were able to get all 5 together, relatively drool free, for a beautiful family portrait. Just after I got “the” shot it started down pouring and we ran back to the van with all 5 dogs loping along.

5 Newfies all in a row by Mountain Dog Photography!

5 Newfies all in a row by Mountain Dog Photography!

Canon or Nikon? Nikon D700. It’s been a workhorse and has never let me down. I also still shoot with various medium and large format film cameras. Film photography is my hobby.

Tell us about your dogs:

My husband, Ian, and I currently have a pack of 4 motley mutts. Our oldest and largest is Logan, a 5 year old great Pyrenees mix. Strangers are usually intimidated, but he’s a big teddy bear once he feels comfortable. Jackson is a 3 year old collieish mix. He loves agility and meeting other dogs. His motto is “strangers are friends I haven’t met yet”. JB is a 1.5 year old min pin. She’s 10 pounds of pure attitude, but she has her silly moments and is quite photogenic. Molly is our most recent addition, a 1.5 year old berner/aussie mix. She’s incredibly smart and motivated to learn. Last month we lost our beautiful German shepherd, Maple, so it still feels odd to have 4 dogs. Also under our care are 6 cats (Miss Kitty, Luci, Bink, Dorie, Masson, and Judy), and 30 laying hens.

The Mountain Dog Photography Pack

The Mountain Dog Photography Pack

Contact information:

Kelly @



Risi runs in honor of her Lab Abbey who was lost to canine cancer

April 30th, 2012

I received a contact form one day from Christine asking if we had any running clothes in our store.  She told me that she was going to run a marathon in honor of a dog she has lost to cancer.  As our conversation via email grew, I learned more and more of her Abbey and the hurt Christine still feels from her loss.  I asked her to share her story with us, here it is:

Our yellow lab Abbey died on March 9, 2011.  She was 12 1/2 when she passed of hermangeosarcoma.

Abbey, the light of the Risi family

Abbey, the light of the Risi family, lost to Hemangiosarcoma

It was just days before Christmas 2010 and Abbey was having trouble walking.  She lost her appetite and wouldn’t eat.  I brought her to our vet and they determined that she had a bleeding tumor on her spleen.  They told me that if we had waited much longer she would have died.  They immediately performed surgery.  We spent Christmas Eve, Day and week sleeping on the floor of our vet hospital.  My husband and I took turns so she was always with family.  We did a lot of praying and finally took her home just before New Years Eve.  We were optimistic that the tumor was benign and continued to pray until we received the bad news a few days later.  It was cancerous and, since the tumor was bleeding, it had spread.  At that point we were referred to an elevated vet care facility that could handle her chemo treatment.  While Abbey was 12 1/2, she was in good shape and had the will to live.  The specialized vet thought she was in good shape to take the chemo.  She thought we might be able to get another 8 months of time with her.  We decided to do whatever we could to save her life.  If we had to remortgage the house, my husband and I would have done it.  I would have given years off my own life for our girl.
January, February and early March were very hard.  She has some rough days after treatment.  In February they determined the the introvenous chemo wasn’t working and so she went to an oral medication, which she tolerated better, but I’m not convinced it was as effective.  All our energy was dedicated to Abbey’s care.  The entire family cared about nothing else but her.  My three children would come home from school and sit with her to do their homework.  Someone was always with her.  I stayed with her all day while the kids were at school.
While she only lasted 3 more months, and we spent thousands of dollars, we have no regrets.  I never wanted to look back and say “we should have, we could have…”  After all, Abbey was always there for us.  She was the one that sat next to the kids when they came home from the hospital.  She was the one that let them pull her ears and hair and kiss all over her.  She was the one who let them dress her up in princess clothes and march around the house.  She was the one that sat next to me through some very difficult times.  She was the one that sat next to my husband after his cancer surgery.  We were committed to be there until the end.  She never let us down and we would never let her down.  There are so many wonderful stories about Abbey that I could write a book.
The day we had to bring her in for an exam, the vet told us the cancer was throughout her body and we needed to consider euthanasia.  She already had one seizure that morning.  I couldn’t even breathe.  We decided to take her home so the kids could see her after school.  She was on the carpet in the living room and everyone sat with. her.  My husband and I could tell she was starting to be uncomfortable.  We told the kids we were going to bring her to the hospital to be monitored, when in fact we knew we had to put her down.
When we got there I begged the vet for anything he could do.  ANYTHING at any price.  He was well aware through Abbey’s 12 1/2 years that money was never a consideration when it came to her care.  We would do anything for her.  She was our first born.  He said her body just couldn’t do it anymore.  I prayed over her as the vet got the syringe ready.  I could not believe the pain in my heart.  I thought I was having a heart attack.  I prayed every prayer I ever knew.  Abbey looked at me and licked me with a very dry lick and then put her head down.  It was over in seconds.  My husband had to practically carry me out.  I was hyperventilating.  We were both hysterical.  It was the worst night of our lives.  I had lost aunts, uncles, parents, but it was much worse losing Abbey. She was part of our core family.  She was the nucleus of the family.
Abbey, the yellow lab

Abbey, the yellow lab

After she died, it was like a part of our neighborhood died.  She had been there since the neighborhood was built.  The community suffered a loss.  We received more cards and gifts at her passing then we did with any human family member.  My neighbors took a collection of $350 and asked us to plant a tree in our front yard in her honor.  She just touched so many lives.

It has been just over a year now.  I just took her food and water bowl out of the kitchen last month.  Along with her toys, they are now all in my bedroom closet.  And, when I get upset, I just go and sit in there and talk to her.  Her smell is still on her collar.
I ran the Shamrock Marathon for her last month because I needed something to help me.  I was suffering with severe depression.  I didn’t have my best friend to talk to all day.  I was alone.  I started training, knowing that the intense training would take place around the time she had died a year earlier.  I thought it would help me through those days, but it didn’t.  I just ran and thought of her.
But, I know she was with me during the race.  I had her dog tags in my pocket.  I really felt like giving up the day of the marathon.  I was having a bad run, but I kept going for her.  My husband and kids saw me at mile 13 and I told them I couldn’t do it.  They all yelled that I had to do it for Abbey.  And I did.
I know she is my guardian angel.  I know she will never leave me.  She is the warm sun that makes me smile.  She is the gentle breeze when I am hot.  I just know she would never leave me.  I still pray to her all the time and every night at dinner my whole family says a special prayer for our girl.
We have pictures all over the house.  My kids make pictures in school of her and they are hung next to my bed.  She will forever be a part of who we are.
No, we don’t have another dog.  The kids want one.  Their pain eased quicker than mine.  The pain of losing her was so deep that I don’t think I could live through it again.  She was one of a kind.  God must have needed another angel.
I hope your organization can help these beautiful animals.  They need us to be advocates for them.  God bless you.

LA Chapter raises $3400 at America’s Family Expo!

April 27th, 2012

For the past three years our LA Chapter coordinator, Tish Grabar has been going to this expo and doing an excellent job of reaching out and educating people about canine cancer. She’s also cried with people who have lost their dogs and shared their stories.  She and her team of volunteers did another great job this year, here’s what she has to say about the expo:

The LA Chapter of the National Canine Cancer Foundation was proud to be an exhibitor at the America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa on April 20-22nd. This was our 3rd year attending this event and am happy to report that we raised $3400.

It is always heartfelt to see some friendly faces who have visited our booth in the previous years as they express their gratitude for what we do and to continue the good work.
This year was expecially nice because we had some beautiful raffle baskets that were donated by some very generous supporters and the final touches were done by our new volunteer Lori Hidrogo.  These baskets helped to draw the crowd in as people wanted to see what all the excitement was going on in our booth.  People were eager to spend for a good cause.
Thanks you again to all of our supporters and volunteers that made this weekend possible..  Together, We are the Cure.
Tish Grabar – La Chapter Coordinator
If you live in the LA area and would like to volunteer, please visit the LA Chapter Facebook page and reach out to Tish!

Spotlight on Smile for a Cure creator and coordinator, Nunthany Johnson

April 26th, 2012

The Smile for the Cure fund raiser is the brain child of Nunthany Johnson.  Two times a year, a group of photographers across the country donation 100% of their session fees to the NCCF.  Since Smile for a Cure started in 2011 it has raised $12,756 to fight canine cancer!

I would like to introduce you to all the Smile for a Cure photographers so, I thought there was no better place to start than with the organizer of this great fund raiser, Nunthany!

Georgia by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Georgia by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Name of business:  Nunthany Johnson Photography
Location:  North Carolina
Favorite subjects to shoot;  Dogs! (of course).  Horses, Nature.
Are you exclusively a dog photographer or do you do other subjects? mainly dogs ( allow a few cats from time to time. :) )

How did you become interested in photography?

I was the photographer for my high school newspaper (yes, a very long time ago!) and ever since then I’ve been hooked! I’ve always been interested in people’s stories and I think that’s part of what appeals to me so much about photography.  Its an opportunity to connect with someone (or something), learn about it, and then share it.  Its all consuming and has always been a form of expression for me. I love that its an ever changing craft and there is always more to learn and master.


Bruno by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Bruno by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Why did you chose to include dogs/pets in your business  /  Or make it your exclusive business.
It sort of happened by accident.  I started out using my own dog as a subject to practice different techniques or in different lighting situations. I ended up having so much fun with it that I decided to begin photographing dogs for other dog parents.  It was like a whole new world opened up!  I love that dogs are so open and real.  Photographing dogs is challenging and super fun all at the same time.  I love capturing how they just live in the moment and take things as they come.  One of the things I enjoy the most is connecting with other dog parents who appreciate the canine species and want to celebrate everything that’s special about having a dog.  It’s also very meaningful because I can combine my passion for photography with my love for animals and give people beautiful photographs that they are so grateful to have.

Louie by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Louie by Nunthany Johnson Photography

Why did you join Smile for a Cure?

Smile for a Cure is very near and dear to my heart because I started it in honor of our wonderful dog Max who passed away from cancer in 2009.  Max was a wonderful dog, a good friend, and such an important part of our family. He had a contagious zest for life & taught us so much about living in the moment and really appreciating the simpler things in life.   I think many people can relate to the fact that losing a pet is like losing a member of the family.  I wanted to do something special not only to remember Max but also to raise awareness of cancer & better the odds for the other dogs and their families dealing with cancer.   What’s so great about this effort is that I’m now joined by pet photographers nationwide & we are all working together to make a difference in the lives of dogs with cancer and the people who love them.


Tell us your favorite Smile for a Cure session story. ( Tell me about a dog that touched your heart, or a funny behind the scenes story…)

Solow was the first Smile for a Cure dog.  He was a senior dog with lung disease and a pituitary tumor.  I was expecting a pretty mellow shoot…but not this guy! You wouldn’t know he had any problems.  He was happy as can be, just enjoying life in his great backyard with the rest of his pack (3 other dogs and 1 cat…who was a pack member but probably not by choice!:)).  It brought home for me just how much we can learn from dogs and their great attitude about life.  The other part that was so memorable was experiencing how Solow interacted with the kids in his family.  He was so gentle and loving with them.  He had several spots on his tummy, one of which was shaped like a heart. The kids told me that was there on purpose because Solow had such a big heart with lots of love to give.  It was so touching and beautiful to see how much they loved and respected their dog Solow.   After this first Smile shoot, I knew I could make a difference with Smile for a Cure!

Nunthany Johnson Photography

Nunthany Johnson Photography

Canon or Nikon?  LOL

Nikon.  I shoot with a Nikon D700. My go to lens is typically the 28-70/2.8 when shooting dogs.  I also love to use my 50MM prime lens especially during closeup shots to get great shots of those expressive eyes!

Tell us about your dogs.

We have a wonderful family of rescued dogs that includes Scout, Toto, and Benji.  We love our guys so much! They bring so much happiness and fun to our lives.  Scout is our crazy little black poodle mix.  He’s super high energy and obsessed with one thing and one thing only:  THE BALL.  Toto is a shitzu mix (we found him running for his life on the interstate!) who enjoys cuddling, chewing on his bone and roughhousing with his older brother Scout. Toto is a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dog International and Scout is working on his certification.  We take both of them to visit with the elderly and children and we are so proud of their ability to bring a smile to everyone they meet.  Benji is our older wheaten terrier mix who can be a little cranky at times but tries his best to keep up with the younger guys.  When he’s not napping on his pet bed, he likes to run real fast from the top of the yard to the bottom.  They are all great dogs and a big part of our family.

Contact information:

Art in memory of a friend

April 13th, 2012

We received a quick contact form today with a short message that I wanted to share with you:

We recently lost our St. Bernard, Holly, and my daughter has a blog. Today she painted the sweetest tribute to our girl Holly. I thought you might all appreciate it Her blog is (April 12, 2012 post)



I loved the art work it was a nice tribute and it made me smile.  We all have different ways of saying goodbye, dealing with our loss and making a tribute.  I love it when they are shared.

Abby is awarded a certificate of courage for her fight of canine cancer

March 20th, 2012
Abby and her certificate of courage

Abby and her certificate of courage

In December of 2005 Edward and Sharon Ostrowski adopted Abby, a female beagle, from a rescue in Illinois.  Abby was one of the many helpless animal victims from Hurricane Katrina.  Her years prior to the Ostrowski home remain a mystery; with numerous signs showing her life may have been a very rough road.  Abby settled into the good life enjoying cuddling with her new owners, playing with their 3 grandkids and her feline friend Minnie.  She is a very smart little girl and enjoys being the “owner” of her two human companions and all the comforts their home brings.

On Dec. 27, 2011 Edward called our clinic reporting that Abby’s gums around her lower incisor teeth looked inflamed.  This was the first sign that they noticed something was wrong with their little girl.  Biopsy results revealed cancer and further testing diagnosed Stage III Amelanotic Melanoma.  Edward and Sharon were devastated.

On Jan. 11, 2012 Abby underwent a Bilateral Rostral Mandibulectomy surgery at a specialty hospital, removing a portion of her lower jaw containing the cancer.  Abby is now currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and despite all the hardships, Abby continues to be a trooper! She is able to eat well and has even learned how to chew her favorite crunchy treats. Abby had always been a familiar face at the clinic prior to her cancer diagnosis and with her more frequent visits now; she continues to melt our hearts with her sweet nature. With the loss of my own dog “Libby” to Osteosarcoma in the spring on 2010, canine cancer holds a special spot in my heart.

Libby the black lab who inspired Megan

Libby, Megan's black Lab who inspired her to do this project!

I discovered the National Canine Cancer Foundation on-line shortly after Libby’s passing. I presented an idea to my practice owner, Dr. Gerber, that we could give our cancer patients a pink paw collar tag along with a Certificate of Courage for their fight against cancer. “ABBY” is the first to receive her tag and certificate from our veterinary clinic.

Megan Niehoff CVT

Columbus Countryside Veterinary Clinic

Columbus, WI


Lotto donates his birthday to canine cancer research!

March 14th, 2012
Lotto enjoying his Birthday cake with Mom, sister Flyer and foster brother Max

Lotto enjoying his Birthday cake with Mom, sister Flyer and foster brother Max

Every year for his birthday, Lotto hosts a party at K-9 Playtime and instead of gifts, he requests donations to go to a worthy cause. This year Lotto turned 10 and decided that his birthday gifts would go to the National Canine Cancer Foundation in memory of a number of his friends who were lost to cancer.  He worked for his whole birth month to raise funds for NCCF and he raised $535.00!

Raffle for the birthday fund raiser to beat canine cancer

Raffle for the birthday fund raiser to beat canine cancer!

Fun was had by all at the birthday party!  There was a raffle, a dog wash and of course birthday cake!  Lotto was good enough to share his cake with his sister and foster brother too!

Lotto is picking out his raffle items

Lotto is picking out his raffle items

Lotto's friends who he raised funds in memory of...

Lotto's friends who he raised funds in memory of...

I love what Lotto’s Mom Marla wrote as she closed the letter  - “Let’s kick that cancer in the BUTT!”  You bet we will Marla!  We believe that “Together, We are the Cure” and you and Lotto and friends have just become part of the cure for cancer in dogs!

Lotto’s friends who were lost to cancer:

In loving memory of :

Ruby Johnson

Winny Weidner

Princess Sunny and Toaster Gamoke

Stella and Mac Mallo

Nathan and Q Timm


You can see more birthday party pictures here. And here is what was written about Lotto on his Birthday invitation:


MACH ARPH Big Lottery Winner 6674

Therapy Dog Extraordinarie

DEAD Man Walking at one and 1/2

Now gracious host at his own doggy daycare with full staff

Agility Champion Lotto, Ambassador of all things rescue

Changed the COURSE of life for hundreds, and me TOO


So for his birthday, here’s the plan!

I talked a little further to Lotto’s Mom because the invitation had me curious about this sweet fund raising boy and here is her answer:

Lotto was sold by his original family to a 2nd family who kept him tied out all day and ultimately surrendered him 6 months later as “a problem barker” to a high kill shelter. He was on death row when Aussie Rescue “sprung” him. He spent a few weeks in foster care where his foster mom’s Vet commented that he was THE nicest dog she had EVER brought him!

My soul mate, miniature schnauzer picked him out as HER pet and SO he came home with us in November. We were the fifth place he lived and he was only 1 1/2!

We lived in a townhouse with no yard and HE, understandably, was TOTALLY reactive on leash due to spending most of his life on the end of one! We sought out trainers, animal communicators, tried every piece of equipment, read any book we could find and ultimately came to the conclusion that he would never be able to leave the house.  But through it all he was, and remains the single most beautiful soul I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  We just didn’t know HOW to help him.

My agility teacher and friend said bring him to class and we will work through it. He took right to agility and soon forgot about anyone else in the room when it was HIS turn to run.

Not too long after that, we openned him his very OWN doggy daycare. He is great with other dogs OFF leash.  Too bad the world cant always be leash free.

He became Uncle Lotto to all the puppies while they crawled over his head and tried to catch him when he was playing ball. Visiting dogs could eat his food, take his bones, toys, sleep in his bed whAtever, he has always been a gracious host.

If he felt a dog was playing too roughly with one of HIS charges, he would literally hurl himself accross the room to put himself between the offender and HIS puppies.

Lotto has never met a person he didnt love. So we took a class and whaddaya know, he was certified as a therapy dog.  We began working with autistic children and watching him with these kids was AMAZING! He would walk into the classroom, look around and walk right up to the kid that needed him that day.  One day, one of his kids had a meltdown and the teacher was walking him out of the room, I asked if he wanted to pet Lotto before he left and he nodded yes.  He ran his hand through Lotto’s fur and pretty soon he was telling me all about HIS dog. By the time we were done he was able to return to the group activity.  I brought him a laminated picture of Lotto so whenever he needed he could “pet” Lotto and feel better. I cried for two days after that incident.  Lotto is simply the single most generous soul ever.

Around the same time we found a positive reward based trainer and that’s when it all came together for us.  She taught ME how to help him and manage his “outbursts” so that he could go places and do things….including competing in agility at the highest level in various venues.

Several years ago he and I were out walking when a car hit me in the middle of an intersection. I screamed and mustve rolled over the hood before hitting the ground. Lotto sat perfectly still while all the neighbors ran out, the fire department came and took me away to the hospital.  He sat right there at my side.  When I came home a week later, NON weight bearing for SIX weeks he took up his vigil at my side and would only leave his post to eat and go outside.

He is my MAIN man, the most wonderful man EVER!  I cry when I think of what he had to overcome to get to where he is today and how he took it ALL in stride as we shopped trainer to trainer, took some very bad advice, made a lot of mistakes and he never batted an eye always ready to play whatever game we were playing that day!

He is MY hero, and as the saying goes, I only wish I could be more like the person my dog thinks I am.

Because of him I got involved in rescue and through the daycare we have fostered and rehomed hundreds of dogs. He has helped us help so many other people and dogs who have met him and been inspired to try to work things out with their own pets, I cant tell you HOW many people have adopted Aussies after meeting him, including two of my closest friends who are now on their 3rd Aussie rescue. Because of HIM our motto has become that NO nice dog should die for lack of space and at one point we had EIGHTEEN  rescues staying at the daycare for a week, all because of him

Because of him we have all learned things we never would have known to even seek out and like a snowball rolling it has radiated outward and now, after 6 years in business and 8 years of living with him we couldn’t even begin to count how many lives he has touched.

Hope that answers your questions. If not, ask me, I could and DO go on and on and ON about my most BEAUTIFUL boy.

Several of the dogs we lost last year were good friends of Lotto’s and AGAIN, because of HIM, we decided to dedicate his birthday month to raising money for research. Lotto did tricks for donations, shared his office, beds, bones and mom with any who needed in their final days.  Because of all that I learned just HOW lucky I am with the statistics as shocking as they are.

And basically because of him I have the life I have, being with dogs every day, helping people and their beloved fur kids from puppyhood to the final day when we have accompanied many of them to the Vet when the time came to let go.

Because of him, I am the person I am today, which is not even half of the “person” Lotto is.

Had it not been for Lotto I may never had actually taken the leap to openning my own daycare where he reigns supreme as a gracious host and head of the welcome committee.

Marla L.

The German Shorthair Pointer Club of Middle Tennessee raises over $4500 for Chase Away K9 Cancer

March 9th, 2012
Cera, Martha and Stacy

The GSP club of Middle Tennessee invited Cera to join in on the fun of raising over $4500 for Chase Away

I have just returned from a wonderful long weekend spent with my friends with the GSP Club of Middle Tennessee attending their Agility Trial. My dear friends Martha & Stacy asked me to attend and help raise donations and WOW did we ever. The generosity of these great folks was amazing, from donating if their pups did well or if they didn’t they gave and gave. One of the funniest things was the judges of the trial volunteered to have Whip Cream Pie’s thrown at them which raised over $800 just for that. The tally for the weekend went over $4500. THANK YOU ALL for sharing the love you have for your dogs with Chase Away.
Happy tails till we meet again…..

Cera Reusser
Founder, Chase Away K9 Cancer

Judges before the Pies Fly

The good natured judges before the pies started to fly!

Chase Away K9 Cancer Fund raiser

Pie Flying strategy session

Chase Away K9 Cancer Fund Raiser

Judges post pies in the eyes and they are all smiles!