Hertz Rental Car Review: Toyota Corolla 2013 – HaliPawz

It was time again to hit the road to Michigan.  I had decided the dogs would go with me so I knew I was going to drive.  Traveling with them has its own challenges, but since I was going to be gone for a week and I would be staying at homes that are dog friendly, it was an easy decision.

I went online to Hertz.com to rent my car.  I almost always rent from a Hertz Local Edition location because it always seems to be the cheapest way to rent a car for a week.  Unless you are traveling in by plane or train, I highly recommend using the local edition option from car rentals.   I have found the best discount so far seems to be the Delta Airlines / Hertz partnership agreement discounts.  Every now and then, the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards discount wins, but it is very rare.  You can access the codes for the Delta / Hertz agreement here, but then it only lets you search for the Hertz airline locations.  I take the codes and input them into the Hertz.com site instead.  To make it easier for the readers, I will just put the codes here:

Hertz Rent a Car Delta Airline Discount Codes

Discount/CDP/Club Code: 165385      

Promotional Coupon (PC): 197536

I don’t know if these codes change periodically or not, so if they don’t work, you may want to click the above link and see if they are different.

This trip was a little different because I was renting one way.  Hertz has a good one way program because they don’t charge you any more to drop off at another location and they have unlimited miles.  I was going to be switching to driving my mom’s van when I arrived in Michigan because she was going to be returning to Missouri with me for a few weeks.  Since she walks with a walker and has a motorized scooter, driving her van makes more sense.  It is a thirteen hour drive and I was only keeping the rental car for 24 hours.

I rented a Toyota Corolla (or similar).  I HATE spending unnecessary money for a big car when a medium size car works just as well.  I have learned the hard way NOT to go smaller than mid size, because you may end up cramped, uncomfortable, and possible without cruise control.  Can you imagine a thirteen hour drive without cruise control round trip?!?  Never again, so I always go mid size or larger!

I won’t go into too much detail about picking up the car because there were a few complications which aren’t typical of a local edition, but needless to say, I had my car and was headed back to the house to load it up after 30 minutes.

I ended up with a  2013 Gray Toyota Corolla with manual seats, power windows, and Bluetooth Hands-free system

I placed a full size seat protector across the back to minimize the dog hair and got started loading the car.

The first thing I want to point out is the large trunk space.  I was so please with how much space I had to load everything.  I am not the best packer when it comes to road trips, I tend to take too much stuff and I’m not very organized about it.  I had a large suitcase, a small suitcase, a bag with the dog’s stuff, two baby gates, a box of shoes, my laptop bag, and about two or three other miscellaneous bags with stuff in it. I also picked up a 28 pound bag of Earthborn Wellness Dog food, I figured Zipper could eat the same food as Bella for a week so I didn’t have to travel with two types of food.

I laid a dry cleaners bag of clothes over everything in the trunk and still could have placed a couple more small items if it was needed.

We hit the road.

Bella was not happy with the back seat.  I knew it was a little smaller back there than she was used to, especially with Zipper being back there as well.  I also had a cooler of water on the floor for them to drink out of.   Judging from the size of the cooler, it appeared there wasn’t  a lot of leg room, but in fairness, I didn’t sit in the back, so I don’t want to comment as a definite.

Zipper asleep on the floor. He is 18 pounds. Gives you an idea of leg room with seats all the way back

Bella stretched out in the backseat of the rental

My Road Warrior Bella in the Backseat

As a larger woman myself, I have to say the Toyota Corolla was comfortable for the most part throughout the trip.  I hated how low the seat was to the ground, but since I’m used to an Escape. I think any car is lower to the ground than I would prefer.  I am 5’10” and felt I hit my head too many times getting in and out of the car.  Once seated, I had enough leg room to be OK, I wouldn’t say it was comfortable.  For a long drive, I wish the center armrest was just a little higher.  There really was no place to rest my arm while I was driving.  Both the door and the center armrest was low.  I couldn’t imagine having power seats and raising the seat a little, I wouldn’t be able to even touch the armrest.

The head rest was just the opposite.  It was designed GREAT!  It was comfortable.  So rare in most vehicles, but I actually used it off and on throughout the drive.

Overall, the car handled nicely.  The cruise control maintained speeds even going up and down hills without feeling like it was dragging or playing catch up.  The car didn’t swerve too much, even with windier conditions, with the exception of going over a large, high bridge.  I was surprised by how much it moved.  With the size of the vehicle, as loaded down as we were, and with the weight of me and the dogs, I didn’t expect that much movement.  I would not want to drive over a high bridge during stronger winds with it!

As the sun began to set and I turned the lights on, I liked how comfortable on the eyes the interior lighting was.  It was the light red / orange you see in some vehicles, but it was laid out nicely.  I could still see everything without any strain or blurring  on the eyes.

I was very impressed with the gas mileage.  I could go about 350 miles on a tank of gas (it would say 362 miles when I filled it) and when I stopped to fill it, it only took about 10 gallons.  I averaged about 30-31 mpg.  When cost is a factor, it is nice to spend less for gas for the trip.

Some other nice features on the car are:

The cup-holders were spaced out nicely so two large cups could fit in them without hitting one when taking the other out.

There is a key holder on a wire so you can place a key chain there without  losing it.

There is a USB power unit within close proximity to the driver / the steering wheel so you can plug your phone in to charge really easily in addition to the usual power source located further down.

Everything was set up to be very driver friendly and within a comfortable reach.  There were audio controls on the steering wheel so you didn’t have to take your eyes off the road to make an adjustment.

All of these are great, but the feature I have to give the highest rating to is the hands free Bluetooth audio system!  I normally dislike these because I feel like they are garbled and a pain for the person you are talking to.  I normally hate talking to someone who is on one.  I decided to set it up to my phone anyway and give it a chance.  Am I glad I did! The sound quality was wonderful!  I talked to my mom for about twenty minutes and she had no problem hearing me.  Since she uses hearing aids, sometimes she does but she heard me clearly.  I heard her clearly.  Everyone I talked to (and I talk on the phone a lot when driving that far) could hear me fine with one exception.  I talked to one friend and I kept getting horrible feedback but I think it was his hand-free system, not mine because the minute he canceled his, everything was fine.  The only problem I found I would have is it sometimes wouldn’t answer with the system when I hit answer on the phone but it could have been my phone or the way I was answering.  I didn’t really have any time to play with it to see if other ways worked better.  I have to say it was probably the nicest drive I have ever had as far are telephone communication goes and for me, it made every other complaint I had obsolete because talking on the phone helps pass the time and makes the 13 hour drive go by a lot faster!

Saving money, easy drive, great hands-free audio system…..the positives outweighed the negative with this rental car!

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Ticks are back out in full force, let’s understand them and the myths around them – HaliPawz

deer ticks, dog ticks

It’s tick season.  I found one on Luke yesterday, a friend found one on their dog a couple days ago.  It is important to understand ticks to help prevent them.

I recently applied for a writing platform, CrowdSource, and in your submission application, you have to take different questions and write answers to them.  The first question I answered was, “How do ticks breathe?”  You would think this would be a simple answer to find with the help of the internet.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t.  I found answer’s that, ultimately, I learned were not correct.  More research and I learned some interesting facts.

The first thing I learned is ticks are not insects.  They are, in fact, arachnids.  An arachnid has two body parts and eight legs.  This means ticks are in the same category as spiders, scorpions, and mites.  One difference ticks have from spiders is they only have one way of breathing, not two, like most arachnids.  They are are able to breathe through an elaborate tracheae respiratory system which consists of a number of small, branching tubes that carry air to individual open pores, or cells, on their body. These tubes are filled with fluid and the gases diffuse in the tubes and ramify over the internal organs.

With over 900 types of ticks, it is easy to understand how they can live in almost any climate.  The American Dog Tick is one form of a  hard tick, which means it feeds continuously on blood, mates, then lays her eggs and dies.  Soft ticks differ in that they feed intermittently and lay several batches of eggs. Hard ticks are harmful to our pets because they draw large amounts of blood, they secrete neurotoxins that has been known to produce paralysis or even death, and by transmitting diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and Rock Mountain spotted fever, just to name a few.

Let’s look at a few tick myths:

Ticks do not jump, fly, drop from trees. They sit on tall blades of grass and wait for an animal to pass by.  They then crawl up and find a place on the animal to attach themselves and begin feeding.

Ticks do not burrow into the animal.  They only insert 1/8th of their body into the animal (or host)

You can not remove a tick with Vaseline, a match, alcohol, etc.  This does nothing except, in some cases, cause the tick to use their defense system and possibly regurgitate infected fluids into the host.

Ticks do not die during winter.  Some types even begin feeding around the first frost.  They can attach anytime of the year.

Not EVERY tick carries a disease.  Many do, but not all.  It can take up to 24 hours for the disease to be able to travel from the tick into the hosts bloodstream, so catching a tick quickly on both the animal or the human will minimize the chances of transmitting any disease.

When removing the tick, if you don’t get the head, it will grow another body is a MYTH!  It may cause an infection like any foreign item in your body can, but will eventually work it’s way out.

In addition to protecting your animal, it is important to protect yourself.

Deer ticks, which carry Lyme Disease, are not as aggressive as dog ticks so once they hit a barrier, such as clothing, they generally stop crawling.  This is why you find them close to sock lines, underwear, etc.  Tucking clothes in will help minimize your risk.

Make sure you protect your animal against fleas and ticks.  Talk to your veterinarian about which method they recommend, but it is important to also do your own homework.  In some instances, veterinarians, like most people in medical fields, may be influenced by representatives of the company or receive some kickbacks for how many quantities of a particular brand they sell.  You do not always have to get your preventative medicine from your veterinarian.  They can write a prescription and you can take it anywhere.  I get mine from Sam’s Club.  I have found them to be the cheapest around here.

If you do find a tick, on either your pet or yourself, do NOT rotate it to pull it out!  Ticks have more of a barb like attachment, not legs so you can not unscrew them out of the body.

The best ways to remove a tick is to take a pair of needle nose tweezers, squeeze the tick, and pull directly back.

There is also a tool called TickedOff Tick remover I have heard good things about.  I have thought about getting a couple, one to leave at the barn and one to leave at home, to see how well they work.  If anyone has used them, please leave a comment.

Bottom line, ticks are bad news.  Let’s get on the front side of preventative measures and react quickly when we find one on ourselves or our pets!

Do you know the dangers in your home for your dog? Top 10 Dangerous Toxins – HaliPawz

Items you may see everyday in your home could be potentially deadly for your dogs.  It is important to be aware of them and teach others in your home about them.

  • Chocolate – This seems to be one many know about but yet it happens all the time.  I have to admit, I have even been guilty of leaving chocolate where my sneaky brats Bella and Zipper have managed to find.  It is amazing how great they are at opening those wrappers to eat the chocolaty goodness!  Dark chocolate and chocolate with a higher cacao is worse, but depending on the size of your dog, any chocolate can be deadly.  The stimulants in chocolate can stay in your dog for up to 72 hours so if  you feel your dog has consumed chocolate, it is best to talk to your vet to discuss what they ate, their size, and breed and let them determine the best course of action.
  • Ibuprofen – (Found in Advil, Motrin, etc)  While it may be used under veterinary supervision to help with pain or inflammation, too much can cause moderate to severe toxicity, including death.  It can lead to stomach ulcers, kidney failure, liver failure, or even seizures.  DO NOT ASSUME CHILD PROOF MEANS PET PROOF!  I can attest that my animals have easily opened up a child proof cap.  Yes, I know I’m starting to sound like a bad pet owner….I can assure you, I try to take great care, but when you have large dogs in your home and large dogs visiting often, things happen.  I was not aware of these dangers then, so I’m trying to help prevent it with others.
  • Acetaminophen – (Found in Tylenol)  This carries more severity than the Ibuprofen.  It has a narrower margin of danger.  If you think your dog has consumed some acetaminophen, call your vet immediately.
  •   Amphetamines – (Such as ADD / ADHD Medication, prescription weight loss medication,  Ecstasy, meth-amphetamines, etc)   Yes, I know the last two are illegal street drugs, but it’s important to still be aware of the dangers around your pets.  This over stimulates your dogs central nervous system and could do severe damage, up to death, in your dog.
  • Insect Bait Stations
  • Rodenticides – (Rat and mouse poison)  As someone who has had a mouse problem in the past, I know how difficult it is to get rid of them.  Please be aware of the choices you are making regarding how to eliminate them.  You may put them in a place where you think your animal can not reach, but you will be amazed the small spaces they can get their paws into.  While not a rodenticide, even traps should be enclosed so if your pet does hit them with a paw, it may set them off, but not on their paw.
  • Fertilizers – It is important to be aware of how dangerous fertilizer can be for your dog.  Most companies will put flags out on lawns where fertilizer has been used, but the average homeowner doing their lawn their selves may not. Be aware when you are out walking your pet be aware of the potential dangers.  Fertilizer isn’t just on lawns.  Some people spray trees, bushes, etc.  Always be alert.
  • Xylitol-containing products –   This is a popular sugar substitute but is made from wood and cellulose.  Items you may find it in some sugar free items, including  gum, candies, baked goods, toothpaste, and other items.  While it has no effect on humans, it can be detrimental to dogs.  It can affect them as soon as 30 minutes after ingesting.  Because it is a sugar substitute, dogs could be very interested in it, so it is important to leave them in areas completely away from your dogs.
  • Household Cleaners
  • Plants – both household and outside plants can be toxic to dogs.  For a complete list of toxic and non toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses, click here.

While this list contains the top ten dangerous toxins for dogs, it is not a complete list.  For safety, keep ALL medication, both human and veterinary, up and away from all of your pets.  If your dog consumes something you are not sure about, please double check.  It is important to err on the side of safety when it comes to keeping your pet safe.

Shopping Safely, Online and In Person – HaliPawz

Online Auction
Shopping can be a sport to some, a pain to others.  I have to admit, I’m not a shopper except at Christmas time, then I love to shop!  When I do shop, for the most part, I will do a lot of it online.  Sometimes it is easier to find what I am looking for online.  For example, Luke, my horse, is a draft horse, so I can’t just walk into any tack shop & buy stuff for him.  Sometimes, it is easier to purchase items from smaller companies than it is from a big box company.  Because of this, you want to make sure you are being SAFE and SMART with your purchases.
Here are some tips:
1.  Whenever possible, look for the little padlock icon in the URL (where it says  http://www…..). That padlock tells you the company is using a secure website.  It is more secure, your information is more protected.
padlock icon
Notice the padlock next to the word “PayPal”
2.  If it’s not a secure site, use PayPal or Google Wallet. Both of them offer the consumer protection against fraud.  Make sure you read their terms and conditions.  Understand there are time limits to request your funds back.  Scammers know the terms and conditions better than you do, so if they are dishonest, they will try to stretch it past that time or try to catch you up and get you to do something that goes against the company policy.  You are responsible for knowing all the details.  I wish I could say everyone is good and honest, but in reality, they aren’t.
3.  Never Never Never wire someone money.  If they don’t use the above, you don’t want what they are selling.  I wish I could say this more than once or have you repeat it over and over.  They will come up with great reasons why you should wire the money.  DO NOT LISTEN!   The same is true for using money orders.  Keep the same mindset.
4.  The old adage “If something is too good to be true….” Definitely applies here.  Sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best.  Make sure to look for hidden “maintenance” fees or outrageous shipping.  One example of this happening is with online contact lens companies.  They will advertise crazy inexpensive pricing for their contacts, when you go to check out, there will be ridiculous shipping charges or a “maintenance fee” tacked on.  It might have another name, like “processing fee.”  No matter what cute name they put on it, it adds to the price and it might not be cheaper.  Too often, by the time you get to that point, you see the amount but you have already put in your information and you don’t want the hassle of starting over.  They capitalize on the psychology of some behavior and still get the business.
4.  Auctions are another great way to get something for a good, or even great, price. I use them often, but again, use only secure sites or PayPal, etc.  Do your homework. Don’t get so caught up in the bidding that you end up spending more than you can find it elsewhere for.  Take a minute, look up the item online, see what price you can get it for, then pick a price you’re willing to spend and don’t go over it.  A lot of the better auction sites offer proxy bidding so you can put in the price you’re willing to spend and then walk away. Have the mindset you might lose, but you’ll be happy if you win.  One of my favorite online auction is Samsclub.com.  This is a fun one because you know the product, you know it’s backed by the company, and, for the most part, it is all brand new merchandise.  It made it to the auction because the item is low in the club or the on hand numbers on-line are too low to keep it on their website, so they move it to the auction to clear it out. For the dog and horse owners, another great one is Horseloverz.com.  One nice feature is you can wait up to four days to actually purchase your winning items, so if you’re bidding on quite a few items, you can pay for them all at once and have them shipped out with less shipping costs.  It is a little messy to wade through all of the items, but once you get comfortable with it, you can learn to use the filters to find what you are looking for.  It’s not as easy to find the dog stuff, but they have it from time to time, so keep checking back, items vary all the time.  Another tried and true site you can find a variety of items is ebay.com.  If you have any other favorites, please put them in the comments below to share with the readers.
5.  When I do shop in person, I like to support small businesses so I always make sure to grab their business card the first time.  Some of the them now use PayPal Here, square trade, or some other form of mobile credit card processing.  Sometimes these are connected to a smart phone or tablet.  It doesn’t mean they are not safe, but if you don’t recognize the company they are using, it is OK to ask them.  Pay attention to your credit card statements.
6. If at a Brick & Mortar (Wal-Mart, Target, etc) always always run your card as credit, not debit (even if it is a debit card).  By doing this, you are protecting yourself from someone seeing you key in your pin.  The person standing beside you on their phone “texting” could be snapping pictures of your credit card and memorizing your pin.  It also protects you more as a consumer.
7.  Make sure you have complicated passwords for anything and anyplace you would be putting your personal info into. This includes social media. If you use a smart phone to shop, always lock it (you should anyway) and don’t use 1,2,3,4 as a password. Make it something only YOU know, not family & friends. Don’t use birthday!  LOL  It is important to use something unique.
8.  Trust your gut! If something seems shady, don’t buy! No purchase is worth it.
9. Last, but not least, if you are truly concerned, get a second card / account that you use for online shopping / small business purchases.  Be careful of the fees that are involved.  I don’t do this because I follow the above steps. I probably purchase 60+% of non food / household items online.  It saves me time & allows for me to find the best price.
Oh….bonus tip….if you find something online that you really like from a larger company, put it in the shopping cart but don’t purchase.  A lot of times, within 24 hours you’ll get a “Did you forget something?” Email and they’ll offer free shipping with a code.  I hardly ever pay for shipping or very little.  Also check the site “RetailMeNot” for specials or just google the Business name with the word coupon after it and you may find some online. They don’t always work, but it’s worth a shot!
I hope these tips help! Happy shopping!

How to travel long distances safely with your dogs in the summer – HaliPawz

I travel from Kansas City to Michigan quite often in the summer months with my dogs.  It is a 13+ hour drive.  While I do not mind the drive, my biggest concern is about the health and welfare of my dogs while traveling in high heat.  It is possible to travel long distances safely with your dog in the summer months, but you must be smart about it!

The first thing to do is to make sure your pets are healthy.  You should never travel long distances with a sick pet, especially one where their breathing may be restricted. Make sure they are up to date on all of their shots and licenses.  Check their collars and leashes to make sure they are in good condition.  If you normally walk your dog(s) with a harness, make sure you have them out and ready to go.  Check your dog food amounts.  Do you have enough for the whole time you are going to be gone?  To make things easier for me, if I am going to be gone for a week to ten days, I will just go and pick up a bag the appropriate size for the trip and then pack one serving out of their opened bag into a zip lock baggy.  This way, I don’t have to worry about open bags of dog food in the vehicle.  You should also have one or two emergency leashes, the type that just slips over their head, in case of a collar or leash breaks.  I have an extra one for each dog.

Make sure your dog(s) are used to riding in the car and riding with each other if you have more than one.  Start taking them with you when you are running errands, keeping in mind the temperature out and being careful.

Because I travel often with my pets, I have a bag with toys I only give them when I travel, collapsible dog food dishes, extra emergency leashes.  Be considerate of others if you are planning on staying in a hotel at all.  Pack toys they can play with without making a lot of noise.

On the day of travel, try to keep your stress level low.  Dogs are sensitive to stress and it is important to keep their stress level down. Try not to medicate your dog with any medicine to keep them calm.  I know some people will give their pet Benadryl or something equivalent to relax them.  While I understand you can not have your dog running around when you are driving but you also want them to be able to breath without any issues, so consider a seat belt or a travel crate over medication.  Benadryl can cause rapid heart rate and rapid breathing, which is not good when it’s hot out.

Ugh!  I hate packing!

Ugh! I hate packing!

Have plenty of water.  They may or may not drink a lot when you are in travels, but you want to make sure they have water available at all times.  I like to use a small insulated cooler because it stays stable due to the weight of it and it keeps the water from splashing around.  Both of my dogs can drink easily out of it.  I also like it because it holds enough water so I don’t have to put my dogs through changing water multiple times and I don’t have to use bottled water.

Starting out isn’t bad because you either have the air conditioner on or the windows down, the potential dangers hit when you have to stop.  Think about your stops.  Try to minimize the amount of time you’ll be stopped during the day, when the sun is up.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Here is what I do to keep the dogs safe while I am making the necessary stops.

When stopping at a gas station, look for one with a full canopy over all of the pumps if you can.  It shades the sun from getting into the car.

Roll the windows down as much as you can in the back without it being so much that the dogs can get out.  Do not just “crack” the windows.  Get them down enough so they can get their nose out the window if they need to.

Do not leave their leashes on them when you are out of the vehicle.  If your dogs are anything like mine, they may jump from the back seat to the front seat and back.  If the leash gets hung up on anything, it could be deadly.

I will usually start the gas, then get the dogs out to start stretching their legs.  I let them walk around with me while the gas is pumping.  Be aware of any liquids on the ground though, as it could be poisonous.

Once the gas is done pumping, I’ll go and walk them in the grass, letting them go to the bathroom, and just overall enjoy being out of the vehicle.

I’ll then put them back into the car but I’ll keep it under the canopy with the windows in the back down and the windows in the front down slightly, just not as much.

Then I run in and use the restroom, grab some snacks if I want them, and get back in the car to take off.  It is so easy to lose track of time looking at things so one thing I do is set my alarm on my phone for seven minutes.  By setting the alarm, I’m able to MAKE SURE my dogs are never left in the car and in a dangerous situation.  Even if I haven’t finished purchasing what I’m getting, I’ll set the stuff down, run out, check on them, and then run back in to finish doing what I was doing.  The other reason for seven minutes is so, if I’m the next in line, knowing it will only be one more minute, I’m good.  Ten minutes could easily stretch to fifteen, so I keep it at seven, that way it is never more than ten.

I am diligent about this.  One time, when I was traveling with my mom and my two dogs, we decided to stop at a chocolate store near the Michigan border.  It was over 85% that day.  I was not taking a chance on their health and well being.  Every seven minutes, I ran out, checked on them, made sure they were perfectly fine, and then would reset the alarm and go back in.  We ended up being in there about 25 minutes.  The dogs were perfectly content.  I did pull them out to walk around one more time, just to be on the safe side, but they were pretty content to get back in out of the sun.

One last word of caution, when you are traveling and stopping someplace for them to go to the bathroom, be aware the asphalt they are stepping out on could be very hot.  Again, always think about the situation, think about the potential dangers, and everyone stays healthy and happy.

Watching out the window

Watching out the window

It isn’t always easy to travel with your pets in the heat of the summer, but it is possible.  Remember, they need to be your first concern.  Water, windows down enough for them, not just cracked, and managing your time will keep them safe!

Happy Travels everyone! 

I'm always happy at Grandma's house!

I’m always happy at Grandma’s house!

Dogs, Medicine, pairing the overpopulated shelters with the needs of the people – HaliPawz

As I was reading an article today about a a German Shepherd trained to sniff out thyroid cancer, it make me realize we are not using our natural resources as well as we should.  We have animal shelters overpopulated with dogs waiting for forever homes, many of them are smart dogs, dogs who should not be in a shelter, all they want is love and companionship.

We have an unbelievable number of homeless and underprivileged in the US right now.  There are currently over 600,000 homeless Americans as of 2013.  Many of them do not take the time to seek medical help or, in some cases, do not have the time to go to a free clinic.  Having done volunteer work with organizations that help the homeless and underprivileged, I know the care in the free medical clinics still need a lot of help.  In many situations, there is an expectation of arriving early so you can get your spot on line, only to sit and wait all day.

My proposal is to have teams of dogs trained to go to these clinics, to walk the streets of the homeless, to be the first level of diagnosis for cancer.  Dogs can also be trained to detect low blood sugar, low blood pressure, notification of a seizure coming on, and, in some cases, the onset of a heart attack.  While some of these abilities wouldn’t help in a clinic setting, the whole point is to get involved with partnering the right dogs with the right handlers to work in areas to cut down the costs of the medical testing.

Using a dog’s ability to detect via scent would help with less evasive screening tests.  It would also allow the handlers to walk the streets with the homeless, those not able to afford a bus or a a way to get to the clinics.

Would it solve every medical problem?  No, of course not, but it is a start.  It is a way to give more dogs in shelters work and a purpose, it is a way to help those less fortunate just a little more.

In addition, more dogs can be trained to detect seizures and oncoming heart attacks, and be given to those in need along with free food and pet care.  In the long run, this care would be cheaper than the medical costs a person will incur IF they have a seizure or if they have a heart attack and it isn’t caught quickly.  There are so many wins to this!

For further information, here are some good articles to read:

Dogs Detect Cancer

Medical Detection Dogs

WebMD pet detecting illness

Pet theme continues; dog food, breeders, and breeds – HaliPawz

Picking the right food for your new fur baby can be daunting.  There are so many things to consider.  Over the last few years of having multiple dogs, multiple breeds in my home, I have learned a lot and wanted to share.  Some of the information I discovered, I wish would have all been in one spot. Since it wasn’t, I’m doing it.  Another thing I discovered is, for every thing I found positive about something, I could also often find something negative.  My best advice, consider the source.

I say consider the source often.  Even as you read this, consider the source (me) as not being an expert.  I do not have a degree in animal nutrition. I’m just someone who likes to investigate things until I am able to draw my best conclusion.

As I mentioned, there are factors that go into picking the best food for your fur babies.  These are in no particular order.

Price. For some, price is a HUGE factor, for others, they want the best no matter what the cost.  I, personally, am more on the latter, I would rather spend more on healthy food for my pets but I also recognized the most expensive does not mean the best for every breed! Do the research before dropping a lot of money.

If price is a factor, then determine how much you can budget before you pick the food.  You may also want to consider the pet you are purchasing.  For example, a Great Dane can go through a 30lb bag of food in two weeks, a Jack Russell may take two months on a 15lb bag.  You may want to scale down and get a medium size dog over a large dog if you are not going to be able to feed them properly.  Remember, dogs are a 7-14+ year commitment and the food bill grows as they grow.  It’s easy to feed a puppy, think about adult size, senior, special diet, etc.

Ingredients.  Look at the ingredients! If the dog food has a lot of dye in it, stay away from it! Yes, I know it makes it look pretty and you feel bad about giving your baby bland dog food, but if you go back and research, almost every recalled dog food has some sort of dye (usually red) listed in the ingredients.  When I saw the most recent recall, Beneful Recall, I was saddened.  First, because I know a lot of people feed it. Second, because it is a Purina brand and, even though I don’t feed their dog food, I do use their horse feed and I believe they are a good company overall for pet food products.  They are a large company manufacturing a variety of pet food products the consumers want.  The last reason I was bothered by it is the red dye in it.  It just solidified my belief about red dye being a problem.

Full disclaimer…I don’t stay away from red dye completely….my dogs do, on occasion, get treats which have red dye in them, such a Beggin Strips, but I am very aware of it and minimize how much; unless Zipper, my JRT, gets into the bag while I’m gone and eats half of it at once! Not saying that happened or anything! (My tweet about it). Of course, I actually try to stay away from red dye in foods myself.  I don’t know why but I remember reading something years ago about it and just stay away. Except red velvet cake. Hey, my dogs get their Beggin Strips, I get my Red Velvet cupcakes.  Moderation!

Continuing with ingredients, as most people know, the first three ingredients are the most prominent items in the dog food.  The more natural the ingredients, the healthier for your pet.  The first three should be a real meat source, not a by-product.  Do not be fooled by the name! There are tricks to confuse you.  If the name clearly states a meat, such as beef, make sure there is no descriptive words with it, such as dinner or meal.  Those are code words for different percentages.  For example, if it says “Beef” and nothing else, then beef has to make up 95% of the main ingredients, if it says “beef dinner or beef meal” then beef only has to make up 25%.  Huge difference! Always look at the ingredients.  It is also important to look at the ingredients because they sometimes use different meats to make up the protein and your pet may be allergic to one and not the other.  I have learned my JRT will eat anything but seems to appreciate red meat more than lamb.  My mastiff has a pickier stomach and was on lamb and did ok, but seems to prefer poultry or red meat as well.

Crude analysis is another important factor.  I used to think the higher protein is always better.  Over time & extensive research, I have learned this is not true.  KNOW YOUR BREED! Understand their needs.  Understand their activity and growth.  I’m going to start with Zipper.  His name says it all.  He flies everywhere.  I’m not sure there is a slow speed on him.  Even walking across the room he does a little prance instead of a slow walk. He is high energy and, at 18lbs, considered a medium size dog.  He goes between Orijen and Acana Ranchland.  Orijen owns Acana, it is just slightly cheaper. His primary food is Acana Ranchlands.  It is 31% protein and 17% crude fat.  The ingredients are a long list of protein rich foods.  He does great on it.

I felt bad not feeding Bella, my mastiff, Acana, but I just couldn’t afford it.  After doing research, I learned Zipper’s food is a little too high in protein for her.  I was feeding her Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast and she did well on it, but I would notice she would be stiff at night after playing at the dog park.  I almost switched her to a different food based on a friend’s suggestion of breeder recommended, which I will discuss in a minute.   I did not switch her brand, just her type.  I switched her to Earthborn Holistic Large Breed and I am happy I did!  It is 26% protein, which is 1% higher than recommended for her breed but she is extremely athletic, so the 1% will not affect her at all and 13% crude fat. Well within the recommended percentage.  In addition, it has Glucosomine & Chondroitin in it!  Within two weeks of the switch, I saw a huge difference in her stiffness! The friend I mentioned earlier? He has switched to it as well. I still give her a supplement of Glucosomine & Chondroitin as well, but she gets the majority from her food.

If you have a giant breed or large breed, there is a lot of information floating around the Internet.  People get passionate about their way being the best way.  This is where I say to use some common sense as well.  In my opinion, when I read WHY Great Dane puppies should not have as much protein because of how fast they grow, it MADE SENSE to me.  At the same time, you have to be aware of when to switch them from puppy food to adult food.  Some Great Danes grow until 3 years, that doesn’t mean they should be on puppy food for 3 years.  Do your research.  Read a few REPUTABLE articles.  Consider the source.  Are they getting a kickback? Do they have a vested interest in a particular product.  Also consider their activity level.  As I mentioned, my mastiff is more active than a typical mastiff.  She will play for hours at the dog park with male dogs half her age.  She will go to the barn and run around.  She is ACTIVE so more protein is good for her.  She even gets a half cup of Zipper’s food mixed in with hers from time to time.  She loves it.

Now I want to talk about breeder recommendations.  Breeders are in a business, especially large breeders.  When their reputation goes up, they become a target.  They will be approached by companies to promote their product, in return, they usually get the product for free or at cost.  Think about it; you’re feeding a lot of dogs for FREE and you are selling the puppies for profit? Of COURSE you’ll consider it.  Most of the time, the product is good, it would be considered upper middle of the road.  Affordable for most people.  It happens in every industry.   I’m not saying the product is bad, but just keep in mind, there is usually some sort of kickback.

***I do want to put my plug-in here for ADOPT over breeders.  You can get purebred dogs / puppies from shelters and rescues.  Unless you need a breed for a specific reason, job, or you plan to show them, please consider adoption from a local rescue or shelter. ***

There are great tools available to help you sort through the details.  One great resource is DogFoodAdvisor.com where it rates the different brands. Please note, they can only rate one or two types per brand, so I would also suggest looking at the company website if your flavor is not reviewed.  It is important to also read the review, not just the visible rating.  You will see key areas of concern or items they were not able to evaluate because the company didn’t make it available.  That could be important.  If the company won’t disclose key nutrient information then you may not want to feed it! There is the flip side as well, sometimes the product may be better than 5 stars, but they only rate on a 5 star tier so all 5 stars are not equal.

So, now for some money-saving tips.

If you decide to feed a premium dog food, most of them participate in a rewards program.  Both Acana and Earthborn do.  For every 12 bags I purchase, I get the 13th free.  All I have to do is save the UPC. Ask your local pet store if they participate.  Three locations in Kansas City sell Bella’s food, K9 Closet, Brookside Barkery & Bath, and Blue Parkway Bait & Pet Supplies.  Blue Parkway does not sell Zipper’s food.  All three locations participate in the 12 bags / 1 free program.  Usually big box pet stores, like PetSmart and Petco do not sell the brands that participate.

Get on an email list for both the food and the  store you end up purchasing from or join their social media page(s).  I receive a $3 coupon off Earthborn every 4-6 weeks.  I know it’s not a lot, but it helps.  If you are at a dog friendly event in town and they have a booth, ask the rep for coupons.  Let them know you currently feed and how much you love it.  You’ll be surprised.  I know this post is about dog food, but I can say I have received coupons for a whole bag of horse feed just by asking! I have also received free small bags of Orijen and Acana just because I asked.  The food is expensive! They know it!  I won’t say it works all the time, but it does sometimes.

If you’re staying in the mid range, visit your wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco.  Find out which brands they carry, then look them up on Dog Food Advisor.  I know at one time, Sam’s Club had a four star rated food for a great price! Not sure if they still do. Another location to look at for dog food is Tractor Supply.  They have started carrying grain free dog food at a reasonable price and many people do not think about them.

I hope this helps you in determine the right dog food for your baby.  Remember to consider each dog is different, each breed is different, and each need is different.  What’s right for YOU is what is important!

This article was written purely for information.  I received no kickback or request to write it. It all started because I posted something about red dye on the Beneful recall I saw on Facebook.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz or like me on Facebook HaliPawz

Traveling with pets? My go to hotel is LaQuinta when available – HaliPawz

I love travelling with my two dogs.  They are part of my everyday life, so it only makes sense I enjoy them when I am on the road as well.  When I moved from Michigan to Missouri eleven years ago, I learned how to travel better with my one dog, Jake, because I was on the road so much for work.  Even traveling home for a visit, I had to plan accordingly because it wasn’t always easy to find a place to stop if I drove.  When I flew, Jake had to be in a travel carrier and travel as cargo.  I hated it.  I was always worried something would happen to him.  It caused me to choose car as a way of traveling instead.  A thirteen hour drive without stopping can make for a long trip, especially when I was traveling after working all day.

Then I discovered the LaQuinta hotel chain!  They quickly became my go to hotel chain of choice.

Let’s discuss the reasons why:

LaQuinta currently operates over 830 locations throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada.  I know they have grown quite a bit over the last few years, so they are becoming easier and easier to find in a location I am traveling to.  Of course, I have emailed them more than once to open one up in my home town of Port Huron, Michigan so I can stay there when I go home to visit family.  Maybe one day!  They may not always be in the prime spot in the city, so if you are hoping for an ocean view room, or a location right in the heart of the city you are traveling to, then you may want to consider a different hotel, but they are usually within a close proximity of where I want to be.

LaQuinta is affordable!  Yes, cost is a huge factor for me when I travel.  I try to find the best priced location when I travel and I have found LaQuinta to participate in many of the travel discounts available.  This is an important side note, LOOK FOR DISCOUNTS!!!!  You should NEVER pay full price for any hotel.  Don’t always assume the discount option you chose the last time is the cheapest option this time.  I will write another blog about traveling on a budget later.

The rooms are nice.  Now, I do want to put in a disclaimer.  If I am not familiar with the location, I will call them to find out if they are a corporate location or a franchise.  If they are a corporate location, I will book with them in a heartbeat.  If they are a franchise location, I will first look to see if there is another location within the same proximity.  If there isn’t, I will go and look for reviews, study the pictures, and I will have to consider if I still want to book at the location.  Not every franchise location is bad, but there has consistently been a difference in the quality of the rooms between the franchise locations and the corporate locations.  The corporate locations have been redesigned.  The rooms are nice, the colors are cheery, the staff always seem to be friendly.

Speaking of staff, the staff is another reason I like to choose the LaQuinta hotels when I travel with my dogs.  With the exception of one location in Georgie, I NEVER feel like traveling with my dogs is a pain to them.  I never feel like I have to hide the fact my dogs are with me.  The staff seem genuinely happy to see them.  They greet them.  They smile when they see them.

All of their locations, with three exceptions, are dog friendly in the US.  I have never travelled outside of the US with my pets, so I can not speak for their Mexico and Canada locations.  I was told the reason the three do not is because of where they are built, there is no grass for the dogs to be taken outside, so they cannot be welcoming of pets.

They have a great rewards program.  If you do any traveling, always look into the hotels rewards program, but I can attest to LaQuinta’s being great.  It is so easy to earn free nights or turning the points into gift cards, airline miles, charitable donations, magazines, or even luxury resort partnerships.  I use mine for free nights except one time I turned it in for a gift card.  Redeeming for a free night is extremely easy.  You can do it on their website or by making a phone call.  I have never had a problem redeeming points, even at midnight ten minutes before I arrived at the hotel because I was driving overnight and got tired.

Their rewards program is on a tiered system, where the more you stay, the quicker it is for you to earn points towards a free night.  I have been at the Platinum level every year except this year.  I am not traveling as much so I am not staying in any hotel as much as I used to.  Another nice thing about their rewards program is you usually receive a follow up survey about your stay.  While you do not earn any points for filling it out, I can speak from personal experience someone DOES indeed read them and follow up.  On the rare occasion I have had a bad experience, I receive follow up rather quickly and even received a partial refund on my stay because of the situation. I can probably count on one hand how many times I have had a bad experience, so when it does happen, it doesn’t deter me from the brand, just that location.

One of the best reasons for choosing LaQuinta when traveling with pets is because they do not have a breed restriction, a size restriction, or a number’s restriction.  They are just as happy to see my 100lb Neapolitan Mastiff Bella as they are to see my lovable, Jack Russell Terrier Zipper.  Of course, Zipper wins them over because he constantly tries to jump up on the counter (a bad habit he was taught at a LaQuinta we frequented often shortly after I adopted him).  There are a few locations that ask you to fill out a pet release where you include your cell phone number.  There are some that state the animal can not be left in the room unattended.  I find these are usually at the franchise locations.  I have never had a problem at a corporate location.

Most of the corporate locations have designated areas to walk your dog, including pick up bags.  The property is usually well maintained, so you don’t have to worry about stepping in messes left from lazy dog owners.  The dogs are not allowed in the breakfast area, for obvious reasons.  They do not want dogs in the area where food is served.  They are usually welcomed in the lobby area provided they are behaving and leashed.  Again, the only exception I have ever had is the location in Georgia where I was clearly informed they were not allowed in the lobby and I had to remove them.  It stunk because I was with a large group, my entire family was staying there, so I would have preferred to have my dog with me instead of locked up in the room, but I respected their wishes.

Speaking of breakfast areas, they have a decent continental breakfast.  There are always waffles, one of their signature items, but then, depending on the location, they may have biscuits and gravy or hard boiled eggs, in addition to the traditional continental breakfast items.

So, the next time you are getting ready to plan a trip and your fur babies are going with you, consider staying at a LaQuinta if one is available in you area of travel.  You can visit their site, which is easy to navigate, at LQ.com.  It is important to remember, as pet owners, you are responsible for your pet.  If they have an accident on the floor, CLEAN it up.  If they are chewers on doors, don’t leave them unattended.  Even if your dog is well behaved off leash, when you are staying at a hotel, USE A LEASH!  Not only is it probably a requirement where you are, but you also don’t know what other dogs are going to be traveling.  Just because a dog travels, doesn’t mean they are dog friendly.  My Jack Russell is not dog friendly.  More than once, I have had to tell a dog owner to recall their dog because it comes running up to mine off leash.  I am always quick to say he isn’t dog friendly from a distance but too many owners say, “Oh, my dog gets along with everyone.”  Those are the owners who ruin it for everyone else.

I want to note I wrote this blog completely to help other owners.  LaQuinta was not aware of this blog at all.  I do want to say a special thank you to one LaQuinta.  I never formally thanked the La Quinta Inn Little Rock at Rodney Parham Rd  1010 Breckenridge Dr., Little Rock, AR for their amazing support towards me and my late Rat Terrier Jake.  Jake was suffering with cancer and our last trip was to Little Rock.  We had been there many times, so the staff knew him and me very well.  I am sure the same staff is not there as this was back in 2008, but his last couple of days here, he lost control of his bowels.  He stopped eating.  He, sadly, had a horrible accident in the hotel room.  I knew the end was near.  I took him to a veterinary down there and they were able to get him rehydrated and we took the chance of getting him home to Kansas City, to his cancer specialist.  When I told the staff about the accident and offered to pay extra for cleaning, not only did they tell me to not worry about it, but they were genuinely concerned about him and me.  When I notified them of his passing, many of them I had encountered throughout my stays signed a card and mailed it to me.  I have never forgotten how wonderful they were.  I had ever made a collage for them to hang up, but circumstances happened and I wasn’t able to return for a couple years.  By then, they had a new manager and it didn’t seem fitting to give them the collage.  Even with new staff, that particular location will always hold a special place in my heart.

Zipper in Little Rock.

Zipper in Little Rock.

I hope this helps the readers the next time they are getting ready to travel with their pet(s).

 

If you like this article and other articles I’ve written, please follow me on twitter @HaliPawz and like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz

Emergency Vet Care – Be Careful of costs when emotions are high

Christmas Day, 2014, I received a call no pet owner wants to get. My Jack Russell, Zipper, had to be taken to the emergency vet.

I had made the decision to leave them at home this year. It is never easy determining the best course of action for your fur babies, but I felt I had left them in capable hands. They always seem to do best staying in their own home when I have to be away from them. With the addition of a third dog, a Great Dane I had agreed to watch for a couple months while his owner was in transition from one home to another, boarding them would get extremely costly AND with the Great Dane and my Neapolitan Mastiff, it was difficult finding a location with enough room. I had found a very capable dog walker. She seemed to genuinely love being around my three, was very accommodating to the many issues surrounding the three, and was affordable.

I know my dogs are not easy. Zipper has dog aggression and food aggression. Bella, the Mastiff, is very loving but can, at times, get annoyed with her little brother when he is in his mood. I needed someone who was very detailed & methodical to keep them all on point. The person I hired fit that bill. I was impressed with how she handled Zipper during our first interview and with all our interactions following ; picking up and dropping off the key. I had used her at Thanksgiving as well with no issues.

A couple days before Christmas I was told Bella got upset with Zipper over a longer than normal lasting treat. She had rolled him over when he gave her attitude and lightly nipped his leg. She cleaned Zipper up, checked the wound, and everything was all right in the world again. Because of the negative interaction, my dog walker was being extra careful. She made sure all treats and food were consumed before releasing them to play and interact with each other again.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. I received my typical text, alerting me she had arrived to feed and care for them. The plan was minimal time with them so she could go and enjoy the day with her family.

Sadly, the day did not go as planned. Through no fault of my dog walker, a scuffle broke out between my two. A third party had arrived on the premises and a door had been left open. Before she was aware the door was open, she heard a squeal from my JRT. She rushed in see the fight happening. There was dog food in the room and we can only speculate as to what transpired between the two dogs. A 100lb dog mad at an 18lb dog. Not a good combination.

The bites were pretty severe. He needed to be checked out. She had bitten around his leg so there were about 4 bite marks. As you can see (taken 5 days AFTER the attack) the wounds were pretty big. He had to go for treatment.

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He was taken to VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center in Mission, Kansas. Typical to most emergency veterinary locations, they required a deposit to start seeing him. This is my baby. I’m up in Michigan. It’s Christmas Day. Of course I gave them a credit card and told them to take care of him. When I spoke to the vet, she informed me I would be looking at roughly $700. I told her to go ahead. About an hour later I received a call stating she had looking at him, they were getting ready to sedate him to get him cleaned up. They also needed to X-Ray his leg to make sure there was no other damage. I was told everything had been put in the computer and it would be about $800. Again, I agreed. This is my baby. He was going to be taken care of.

Later in the day I was told he was resting peacefully and would be able to go home in the morning but he would need constant care because they couldn’t stitch him up yet. They wanted to allow the wounds to breath a few days. I was also told leaving him there a couple days would be another option. The vet told me she would call me in the morning to discuss my options.

I was relieved. I knew he was ok, he was getting strong anti-biopics and pain medication. Bella, my Mastiff, was getting care at home, and the Great Dane was with his owner. My emotions had been running high all day trying to decide if I should stay or head home. It is never an easy decision.

I received the call the next day. Zipper was eating fine but he was heavily medicated. I was told they could keep him there for $80 a day or I could come pick him up and bring him back every day for a dressing change. It would just be an office visit of $25 every day. $25 vs $80 when I am 13 hours away. I made the decision to keep him there a couple more days so he could have the utmost care and be watched. With the wounds still open, we had to be careful of infection. It was worth the extra $50+ for him to be cared for better than I could care for him.

Even though I was concerned about him, I made the decision to keep my trip as planned, let him stay in the animal hospital, and let Bella be cared for as we had scheduled.  I felt good about this decision, as good as I could while still being concerned about Zipper.  On Saturday, I received a picture of Bella and could see she was sad.  I even responded as such.  The reply I received was enough to tell me I had to head home.  Bella was starting to break down.  She went from a home with me and two other dogs, to me being gone and the other two dogs taken away from the home quickly with emotions running through the humans.  She was starting to not eat.  She was distressed.  I had to go.  I finished up a few errands I needed to do in Michigan, loaded up the car, and headed out.

I ended up stopping in a rest area to sleep for a few hours, driving overnight is never easy.  I let my dog walker know to go ahead and feed Bella Sunday morning so her schedule wasn’t off.  I didn’t need anything else to stress her out.  I had planned to get home, unload the rental car, take a quick shower, then go and get Zipper.  Plans changed quickly.  I was not ready for Bella’s attitude.  She cried and whined.  From the minute I walked in the door she started searching the house and just kept crying.  I could tell she was happy to see me but it wasn’t enough.  Every time I went out to get something from the car, I could hear her non stop.  The problem was, I didn’t know what to expect from Zipper either.  I knew he would need 24 hour care and could not be left alone, but could he be left alone long enough to go out and finish unloading the rental?  Would him and Bella be ok?  She bit him HARD the last time he saw her.  Would he forgive her?  All of these thoughts were going through my head.  I didn’t know what I was getting into.

I made the decision to just unload the perishable items and my suitcases.  I chose to skip the shower.  I was going to get Zipper.  It BROKE MY HEART leaving Bella again.  To shut the door on her and hearing her cries as I walked to my vehicle.  It was almost more than I could take.  I could not take her.  I didn’t know what the attitudes would be and could not risk it with Zipper being so injured.

I arrived at the vets office and was presented with the bill BEFORE I could see Zipper.  I understand the reason behind it, they need to get paid, but I just wanted to see Zipper.  I didn’t even really look at the bill, handed over my credit card, and signed the receipt.  Once it was paid, they called back and said he was to be released.  While I waited for him, I looked over the bill and was shocked at what I saw.  Not only had the $800 quote moved to $1200 but the “$80 a day” had switched to $141 a day!!!!  Are you kidding me?!?! A 76% increase OVER what I was quoted!!!  What choice did I have?  The work had been done.  I wanted my dog.

No, I couldn’t let it go.  It’s not RIGHT to take advantage of people when they are emotional.  I saw Zipper.  My heart BROKE.  He was so heavily medicated and bandaged up.  He looked horrible.

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As you can see from these pics, it would be easy to just focus on him and not think about the costs as the time.

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I started to walk away and stopped. I had to say something. I asked the associate at the front desk about it. I explained my concern. He said he would talk to the business manager and have her get back to me.  I was coming in the next day so I was ok with waiting, plus it was Sunday so I figured I wouldn’t get an answer.

I arrived home and was careful to not allow any apprehension creep into my thoughts.  I wanted a positive greeting.  I walked in, dropped the leash so I could go and block the dog door.  Zipper was supposed to only go out on a leash long enough to go potty, and then back in.  We had to minimize his risk of infection.  Before I could slide the lock down, Zipper was OUT THE DOOR cone and all! The little brat!  I popped the door out and went out on the deck to get him.  He was going to the bathroom, so I waited.  Bella was ecstatic!  She was hopping all over the deck.  Leaping into the air.  Spinning.  She was so happy to have her brother back!  Zipper finished going to the bathroom and ran up onto the deck and was sniffing her like crazy.  He was pretty groggy so I took him in, showed him his new dog bed, and he proceeded to get in it and lay down.  Bella seemed to understand she had to be easy around him.  My fur family was going to be ok.

I went in for my follow up and Zipper was taken back right away.  The vet came out to discuss my options.  I could either stich him up (which would be a ridiculous cost; he said it would be about $800 – $1100)  or I could remove the bandages, keep him on an anti-biotic and pain medication, and let nature heal him correctly.  He would have a small scar but his hair should cover it up.  He was upfront and said he wasn’t recommending the surgery.  He didn’t feel it was necessary.  Zipper came out of sedation rough the first time and he didn’t feel it was in his best interest to sedate him again.  He warned me there would be some discharge from the open wounds though, so if that was going to bother me, I should consider the surgery.  I know there are people out there that would opt for the quicker, less messy, fix.  For me, it wasn’t about the cost, it was about what was in Zipper’s best interest.  I didn’t want him sedated again.  I would take on the responsibility of putting warm compresses on the wounds three times a day, I would deal with the oozing, healing, wounds.  I knew it would take an extra week for him to heal; stiches would be about 10 -12 days, letting it heal naturally would be about 21 days.  I was prepared for that.

They brought Zipper out to me and I went to check out.  I asked again about the bill and the associate checking me out was looking at me like I was speaking a foreign language!  Ugh!  Here we go again.  I re-explained my concern about the bill. She assured me she would discuss it with the business manager, she handed me a business card, said she wouldn’t charge me the office visit , and she would have the business manager give me a call.  I made my appointment for the following Monday and left.

I arrived for my follow up and was handed some receipts.  I glanced at them quickly, saw a “-” sign by a dollar amount and assumed they had just corrected my bill without calling me.  Not a great business practice but I didn’t care as long as my bill was adjusted.  Zipper entertained the waiting area with his Terrier cuteness, cone and all, so I watched him.  While he was back for his follow up, I glanced at the papers given to me.  There were the EXACT SAME RECEIPTS I already had!  Are you kidding me?  Zipper was brought back out to me and I went to the front desk to check out.  It was the same associate I had talked to talked to the previous Monday.  I asked her about it again and she looked at me like it was the first time she was hearing it.  I showed her the card she gave me the previous week.  I was told to have a seat.

I was met by the director of client services.  She took me back into a room and I explained my concern yet again.  I explained my frustration with the lack of communication.  As we talked, she explained all phone calls are recorded so she would be able review the conversations between me and the veterinarian I talked to.  I said “Great!”  I was genuinely happy to have them reviewed.   She seemed a little surprised I was encouraging the review.  I knew I was right about what I heard so I wanted the review.  She apologized for the lack of communication and assured me I would hear back from her. I was happy with the communication and was glad I had said something.

The week days passed.  By Thursday, I still had not heard from her, so I called the office.  I was told they were having problems with their phone systems, they had a technician coming out, and was asked to be patient.  I felt like I was just getting the run around, but I said ok and continued to wait.

Zipper and Bella were doing well.  Zipper was healing nicely.  They were starting to interact again, rather than just tolerate each other.  Bella wanted to play and would paw his cone to get his attention.  I could tell he was still a little nervous around her, but was just encouraging positive interaction and letting them take it at their own speed.  I was so happy the day I looked over and Zipper was giving Bella kisses!

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About a week later, I finally received the call I was waiting for. I was told they were finally able to review the conversations and I would be getting a refund. She wasn’t sure how much because the business manager was out with the flu and she would need to discuss it with her. I was understanding and said I would wait, figuring it wouldn’t be until the next week since it was already Friday. I called Monday to follow up and was told the associate I was dealing with wasn’t in. I understood. I called again on Wednesday. They took my name before telling me if she was in or not. They came back on the phone telling me she wasn’t in but I could leave a voicemail. They were expecting her in later in the day.

Well, a month after I started talking to them about the cost, I FINALLY received a call back and I am happy to report they are refunding me some of my payment. My perseverance paid off. I am EXTREMELY happy with the outcome and believe they are being fair.

do not believe they practiced good business behavior on the front side. I wonder how many other pet parents paid the bill without saying a word? I do appreciate their correcting the situation.

Bottom line, even in emotional situations, you have the right AND the duty to be informed and follow up. In any medical situation, human or animal, go through your itemized bill. If there is a problem or concern, voice it. The outcome may not always be in your favor but YOU are your own best advocate!

Dogs, Couch, Sleep…Bad Combination

I know all the reasons I should not fall asleep on the couch. Common sense tells me to just take my butt to bed but it isn’t that easy. You have to understand, sleepy brain has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk brain when it comes to driving, so I have to believe it impairs the thought process in general. I have never been drunk, so I have nothing to compare it to….so to make me feel better about my silly decisions in this post, I am sticking to this theory!

I feel I need to include a little backstory. Tuesday was spent working all day. Literally all day. My creative juices were flowing so I was on my laptop practically all day. I started a new project about 11:30pm Tuesday night and finally closed the laptop at 4:30am Wed morning. I went to sleep around 5am and was back up around 8am. 3 hours is enough for me to function but then I’m tired the next night. I felt it was important to explain HOW tired (it helps with my sleep brain theory)! I fell asleep, sitting in the chair, watching TV. I woke up to a Great Dane trying to get in the chair with me. You see, that’s a key point! I didn’t wake up on my own, I was FORCED to wake up. Startled even. Ok, startled may be a stretch. I guess Titan decided I had been away from him too long and wanted to be closer. Titan, a one year old Great Dane, is very needy affectionate.

Sitting in a chair with a Great Dane that cannot seem to get comfortable is not easy, even when I’m awake, but downright annoying when I’m tired. I stand up with the intent to go upstairs to go to bed. I shut off the lights (the REAL reason I’m always receiving “you use more electricity than your neighbors” letters. I’m about to head upstairs when my sleepy brain kicks in.

First, I would have to put the gates up because Titan and Bella are both counter surfers. You can understand….those SUPER HEAVY gates I use that are so cumbersome to put in place. There are so many of them. Sleepy brain kicks in and reminds me if I just crash on the couch I’m standing next to, I wouldn’t have to mess with the gates. They don’t counter surf when I’m downstairs with them. Sleepy brain…you have a valid point. Now, I’m not that easy. Sleepy brain doesn’t win that easy! I argued a little. The gates aren’t heavy at all, there are only two, and I walk right by one as I head upstairs.

The stairs. The dreaded stairs. Sleepy brain reminds me I have 30 stairs to climb to get upstairs and I have to dodge flying missiles on my way up. Reality, I have 13 stairs. The flying missiles are the three dogs fighting each other to be the first up the stairs. The first one in the bedroom gets the prime spot they want on the bed. At least, that’s what I think goes through their mind in the race upstairs. Sleepy brain tells me I am too tired to fight them and won’t have the strength in my voice to just tell them to wait as I walk up. Sleep brain is pretty convincing. Just as I am about to win the debate in my head, Sleep Brain reminds me I left a few things on my bed earlier in the day. That is the winning argument. I don’t have the energy to clean them off and with three dogs vying for a spot, not moving them is not an option. Sleepy brain does a little victory dance as I lay down on the couch.

My couch was comfortable pre Titan. It had thick cushions along the back that you can just sink into. After coming home multiple times to those cushions laying on my deck, thanks to an over active Great Dane puppy who has an affinity for taking thinks out my dog door, I removed all the cushions. Without the cushions, it’s just a hard back surface. Of course, it’s also a lot wider without the cushions.

As I’m laying down, trying to get comfortable, I’m also keeping two piranhas dogs at bay. They are both eager to jump up on the couch with me. I get settled with my blanket over me. Within 5 seconds I have Titan climbing over me to lay down by my feet and Zipper, my Jack Russell, jumping up to lay up by my chest. Zipper has dog aggressions from time to time and still hasn’t fully accepted Titan in the house. I’m always on alert when those two are near each other because Zipper can get aggressive when he’s laying with me. He’s fine if Titan is asleep first but if he’s up near me first, he doesn’t always let Titan up. Yes, the 18lb dog rules the house.

I keep the ottoman near the couch so Bella, my Neapolitan Mastiff, can also be close. She is such a good girl. She’s happy to just chill on the ottoman, away from all the dog drama. She isn’t very cuddly at night. I think her Mastiff side kicks in and she’s on guard duty. The irony is, when she DOES want to cuddle, she just pushes the other two out of the way and claims her spot.

You would think this is where my story ends, but it isn’t. It is really where it begins! You see, I’m sound asleep, oblivious to the devious mind at work, until I am forced awake by a cold, very wet, nose. Ugh! Titan had just gotten a drink and felt I needed to be awake with him. Lucky me. I close my eyes to go back to sleep. Titan begins pacing. I’m so tired I don’t think a lot about it. I tell him to lay down and start dozing. I feel a heavy head plop on my arm. I start to doze again. Titan wakes me up again.

What is his problem?

I slightly shift and realize his dilemma. He had climbed off the couch and the evil one (Zipper) had moved down to where Titan had vacated. Zipper NEVER lays at my feet unless it’s to torment Titan. Titan knows he is the underdog in this house. He doesn’t dare try to move Zipper. I chuckle to myself, remind him he shouldn’t have moved, adjust my pillow, move to my side, and proceed to try to go back to sleep.

After hearing Titan pace a little more (he REALLY wanted on the couch) I finally fall back to sleep. Knowing this standoff was happening, I couldn’t go to a deep sleep because I was worried Titan would push his luck and Zipper would try to attack him. I love Zipper dearly. His Jekyll and Hyde personality is something I have come to accept, even though it drives me crazy.

Next thing I know, Titan is climbing over me and stretches himself alongside me. I’m proud of him for figuring out a solution. The issue is, I am NOT a small woman. Titan is 130 pound dog. I honestly don’t know how this is comfortable for him. To add humor to all this, Zipper immediately leaves his post by my feet to crawl up and lay along my arm. Now that his tormenting Titan is over, he wants back up closer to me. The problem is, now his head and Titan’s head are right by each other. Titan moves A LOT. I could see it happening. Titan moves, wakes Zipper up, and Zip attacks him. So much for me going back to sleep. I notice they are actually touching. Zipper lives by his own set of rules. You can’t touch him, but he can touch you.

Luckily, they both seemed to have a mutual understanding and I finally fell back asleep for about 45 minutes. Even now, as I type this up, I am using the mobile app so they are comfortable. There has been numerous shifts on their part but they are happy because they get to be near me.

In the end, that’s what we are here for isn’t it? Their happiness? I am pretty sure they believe it is.

I really need to sleep in my bed tonight!

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A little post note…as I was finishing typing this up, getting ready to get up and log on to the laptop to clean it up and correct any spelling, I thought it would be funny to share that Bella decided it was her turn to lay with me so she pushed the other two away. Once she was up, it was clear Titan wasn’t happy. He’s trying to hard to find out how he can get some love as well!

Have a great day everyone!

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