Do You Set Goals For Your Dog? –

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Set Goals For Your Dog

Here’s an interesting question — do you set goals for your dog?  I do.   I’m a big believer in goal setting for myself but I’ve extended this practice to my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie as well and I believe there are huge benefits.

Like with my own goals, I set specific ones for my dogs in different areas.  Here are some of the dog goals we have.

Dog Health Goals

This is one of the key areas especially now that my dogs are older at 12 years of age.  I want them to be as healthy and fit as possible.  So one important goal that we can actually measure (since goals are always better when you can measure them), is their body weight.

In the past, Chester and Roxie have gained a bit of weight over the cold season due to lower levels of activity during our cold Canadian winters.  So the past few years as with this past one, we set a goal in maintaining their body weights over the winter.  We did this by continuing with exercise if not outdoors, then indoors running up and down our house stairs.   Also, I watched what they ate.  No junky treats, just healthy and low calorie ones were allowed.  And with my girl Roxie especially, since she was the one more prone to weight gain, I limited the amount of food during meals.

I’m happy to report that they did not gain weight over the winter and both are weighed each month to monitor their levels regularly.  For Chester since he has EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, he is actually prone to loss of weight so I made sure that he maintain adequate body weight by adjusting food as well.

Both Chester and Roxie did quite well from a fitness point of view this past spring season with 1.5 to 2 hour hikes at conservation areas with our small dogs group.

Dog Grooming Goals

We don’t like the idea of paying hundreds of dollars to have our vets clean Chester and Roxie’s teeth so we set another goal of keeping their teeth as clean as possible with home teeth brushing as well as applications of gel like Petzlife.  So far we have been successful at this as their teeth are not bad enough that the vet needs to do teeth cleaning at the clinic.  If you missed our dog teeth brushing video, just click on the link.

Dog hair tangles and mats are a big problem with Lhasa Apsos so although they were tangled up during the winter since the air was so dry indoors and they needed their coats for winter warmth, we are now getting hair trimmed each month at home over the summer season with our electric clippers.  We are also clipping their nails each month too as well as cleaning ears – see our dog nails clipping video.

As a goal, if we could reduce the number of ear infections that my girl gets, that would be great.  She use to routinely get an ear infection every other month almost on cue but so far this year she’s had only one.

As a goal for next winter, we would like to minimize all tangles and mats while leaving a longer coat for winter warmth if possible.  I’ll just have to be better at daily hair grooming for my dogs.

Dog Social & Mental Fitness Goals

This is an area that unfortunately many dog owners out there don’t bother with.  I want Chester and Roxie to have decent dog social lives and we do this by going out regularly with our small dogs outings Meetup group.  Although each winter our group activity was low since many dog owners just wanted to hibernate, as soon as spring came, we were right back on schedule with two outings each week and this past spring season was great with many of Chester and Roxie’s doggie friends returning as well as many new doggie friends successfully integrated with our group.

dog social goals health goal setting

For mental fitness, my dogs and I still go through our basic obedience drills almost daily.  They earn apple pieces during these drills since I have an apple after lunch each day.  These drills keep my dogs mentally sharp.  And when we get to one particular local dog park that has an agility ramp and hurdle jumps, we do those too.  If you missed that fun dog agility video, just click on that link.

New Interesting Experiences As Goals

I also want to expose my Lhasa Apso dogs to new interesting experiences that they will enjoy.  This is set as yet another one of our goals.  So just recently, I brought them along to a fishing day at a Island Lake Conservation Area near Orangeville, Ontario where they got close up to a real live fish for the very first time in their lives.  Here’s a short video clip of that experience which shows Chester  particularly interested in the little fish caught.

Overall Benefit Of Setting Dog Goals

So as you can see, these goals are meant to keep my dogs as healthy and happy as possible.  I want to give them the best life I could and by actually setting goals for my dogs, it makes me much more committed to making sure that these goals are achieved each year.  This would be the overall benefit in setting goals for my dogs, ie., it makes me totally committed to my dogs to ensure they have the best life possible.

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My Lhasa Apso Dogs Turned Twelve! –

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Lhasa Apso Dogs Now Twelve Years Old

I can’t believe sometimes but my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie both turned twelve years old last week.  As I look back, what a fantastic 12 years we’ve been together so far.  But of course as any pet owner can related to, I also feel a bit sad knowing that my dogs are getting older and will not be with me forever.

Fortunately, both Chester and Roxie are still in pretty good health despite Chester’s EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) which is now under control through lifelong medication.  Their body weights usually increase over the winter because of less activity but this past winter, their weights have been pretty stable as I was careful not to overfeed them and keep them pretty active.

Small Dogs Group Active Again

As with all winters here, our small dogs group is much less active since members don’t seem to want to come out but now that spring is here, quite a few small dogs and their owners, both new as well as returning members, are starting to come out with us on walks.  So we have resumed both our longer weekend outings as well as our shorter midweek dog walks as everyone seems eager to get their dogs out again.

It’s interesting to watch how the younger dogs all seem to find each other as they run around with each other while the older dogs like my Chester and Roxie prefer to just walk a nice pace.  The younger dogs seem to respect the older ones by not getting into their faces much.  Of course if a younger dog did get into Chester or Roxie’s faces, they will instantly be reprimanded by them!

My Continued Commitment To My Older Dogs

As my Lhasa Apsos get older, I continue my commitment to them.  My continued commitment to Chester and Roxie can be summarized in a few general statements as follows;

  1. I will commit to keeping them as healthy as possible by monitoring their body weight and getting them medical attention quickly as needed.  I’ll keep them active by daily walks outside or running stairs indoors during bad weather days. Their eyes, teeth, ears and hair will be cared for on a regular basis.
  2. I will commit to keeping them mentally healthy by taking them to interesting places like nature trails each week with continued social opportunities with their doggie friends through our small dogs group.
  3. I will commit to spending lots of quality time together when we are at home as well as outside when we are not with our small dogs group. Our home will continue to be very clean and comfortable for them and that includes keeping their indoor dog litterbox clean as well.

The photo above was an example of quality time together as we did a road trip out to the Hamilton area to scout out some potential new trails with waterfalls for our small dogs group.  As you can see, both Chester and Roxie were taking it all in with such interesting surroundings like Tiffany Falls shown in the photo.

You can bet that both my dogs and I look forward to each of our outings every single week throughout this spring season.


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Beautiful Moving Dog Video All Dog Owners Should Watch

Dog Video All Dog Owners Should Watch

Every now and then, I come across a dog video that really moves me and this is one beautiful clip I really want to share.  It reminds us as dog owners what our responsibilities are for the entire lives of our pets.

For me, it also made me a bit emotional inside because the messages in the video were so strong that they also reminded me of my only regrets in life which was my own dog ownership experience with my first to Lhasa Apso dogs Pepper and Max.  Unfortunately at that time so long ago now, I was not as good dog owner to them as I should have been and this video reminded me of that.

Without getting into details, I was able to learn from my experience with Pepper and Max which definitely resulted in how I am as a dog owner these days with my current Lhasa Apsos Chester and Roxie.  The video reinforces my commitment to keep my dogs healthy and have interesting experiences outside with their doggie friends on a regular basis.  It also reminds me to keep a clean and safe home for them including a convenient dog room where they can access water and their indoor dog litterbox anytime.

If I could only turn back time, I would do many things with Pepper and Max differently compared to how I do them now with Chester and Roxie.  I only hope that someday when we reunite in the afterlife, Pepper and Max will forgive me for my faults when they were with me.

Reminder Of Our Dog Owner Responsibilities

I obviously want to share this dog video so that all dog owners out there will learn from the powerful messages contained in it so that their pets can have the best life with their humans.

Here is the video and I sincerely hope that you will not only enjoy it but also be reminded of your obligations to your pet.

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Dog Socialization Pays Off – New Video Small Dogs Group –

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Dog Socialization

We had one of our final weekend outings with our small dogs outings Meetup group this past weekend and all of the eight little dogs who came out have been on other dog walks with us before.  It was interesting to see how some of the more timid ones were starting to show increased comfort in mingling with other dogs now that they have seen some of the same ones over time.

In addition to taking photos, I shot video footage to try out a new camcorder I bought several weeks ago.  The edited video is really fun as it shows our dogs on the trails at Forks of the Credit provincial park this time.  Check it out here.

Toronto Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group

The Forks of the Credit outing was the final official weekend one but if the weather cooperates for this coming weekend, we will do a bonus outing back to Robert Edmondson Conservation Area.  More repeated outings especially for the timid dog members of our group will just help them out as they will realize that many of the regular dogs are their friends.  This is awesome dog socialization at its best.  Maybe we’ll shoot more footage for another extra small dogs video.

As for general dog obedience, don’t forget that my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie, star in a free video demonstrating many of the general obedience training drills that we do.  Just click on the graphic below or at the blog sidebar on the left for access to this dog training video.


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What Really Happens In Leash Free Dog Parks –

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Leash Free Dog Parks

Ever wonder what really happens in leash free dog parks?   Some of our members from our small dogs outings Meetup group attends our events at dog parks while other members just come to our trail walks.  Several dogs from our group attend both types of outings.

My two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie (shown above with two of their friends) have been going out to our local leash free dog parks in Mississauga for quite some time well before our small dogs group was even formed.  They appreciate being able to roam free although my boy Chester doesn’t like any of the bigger dogs.  He still does okay since most of the big dogs simply walk away when they quickly realize that Chester doesn’t want to socialize with them.

When our small dogs get together at these dog parks, they go around in a little pack which is always nice to see.  They feel like a nice little group and check out other dogs together as a group, ie., strength in numbers.

Recently, I came across a hilarious video of humans portraying various dog behaviours in dog parks and I must say they are pretty accurate!  Both dog owners and non-dog people alike will find this clip very entertaining but those of us who have dogs who go to dog parks will especially laugh at the accuracy of these portrayals.  Get ready to be entertained here.

Hope you liked the video as much as I did. If you have not brought your dog to a leash free dog park yet, try it out. It might open up a new horizon for you and your dog.

On a side note, Calendars is having some November promotions featuring new 2017 dog calendars and other items.  Just click on the big graphic below to see what they have and here are some codes to use;

Offer: 25% off $25 + Free Shipping
Code: NOV2525

Offer: $5 off $30 + Free Shipping
Code: THANKS30

Offer: $5 off $40 + Free Shipping

All of the above codes are valid to the end of November.

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Dog Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency EPI 2.5 Years Later –

dog epi exocrine pancreatic insufficiency lhasa apso

Dog Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency EPI

So we just had our checkup today with the internal medicine specialist vet for Chester, one of my Lhasa Apso dogs who has EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.  This is the first time we actually had a specialist appointment 12 months apart (previously it was more frequent) as our last blog post on exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was a year ago.

Chester was fasted for 12 hours just in case the vet wanted to do an ultrasound on him.  But it turns out that wasn’t even necessary after the physical exam and reviewing the bloodwork from May.  What really pleasantly surprised the vet was Chester’s weight.

Back in May during our regular annual checkup with our regular vet, I had reported that Chester was kind of stuck at the 18 pound level.  The vet suggested we increase his food intake which I’m sure Chester did not mind!   So after a few months of eating one full cup twice per day, Chester weighed in at a bit over 20 pounds this morning!  The specialist vet never thought Chester would get over 20 pounds again.

She said that Chester is now even slightly overweight and it would be okay to decrease his food amount to maybe 3/4 cup of food each meal so that he can drop to maybe just under 20 pounds for a healthy weight, especially over the winter when both Chester and his sister Roxie are prone to gaining weight from a drop in outdoor activity.

Chester continues on his current lifelong treatment consisting of Pancrease powder, famotidine and vitamin B12 shots.  The specialist vet kindly wrote us another written prescription for the Pancrease powder so we could source it cheaper from an online pet pharmacy.

I told the vet that Chester’s stools are generally good (not soft) and there is no signs of wet or loose stools.  The only thing I notice different compared to his before-EPI days is that he tends to have a bit of heat sensitivity as he doesn’t like to go outside on the back deck during the summer but is the first to run out when it’s raining or during cooler temperatures.  The vet didn’t think this was a significant observation to his condition.

So all in all after 2.5 years of his initial EPI diagnosis, Chester is doing really well with a good body weight and otherwise living a great life.  Not only is he a happy guy at home with his sister Roxie and myself, he has a full social life with his doggie friends once or twice per week through our small dogs outings Meetup group which he enjoys.

I hope that for all those out there with EPI dogs, our case will act as some reassurance that our dogs can still live a normal, happy life as long as you do your best to keep them healthy as possible.

By the way, Chester is in the photo above on the left with his sister Roxie on the right as they enjoy an outing to Heart Lake Conservation Area this summer.


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We Control Our Dogs Social Lives –

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Dog Social Lives

I created our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group so that my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie can have a social life.  I felt it was important since dogs are naturally social pack creatures.

Whenever I see single dogs in the neighbourhood who are always barking like crazy whenever they see other dogs around, I know right away that these particular dogs are not socialized as their owners have prevented them from any contact with other dogs early on.  Dog socialization is considered by trainers to be an important element of overall dog obedience training starting at puppyhood.

Not saying that our dogs have to necessarily like all other dogs.  Many of our small dog members in our group including my Chester does not particularly like big dogs but being with other small dogs is just fine.  However, some of these neighbourhood dogs do not get along with any other dogs no matter what size.  This is a real shame since these dogs will never know the happiness possible from having other doggie friends in contrast to the regular dogs who come out with us in our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group.

We as dog owners end up having total control over our dogs’ social lives.  It is up to us to get our dogs out with their doggie friends even if it means getting in our cars to drive somewhere for scheduled outings.  Yes this may sometimes be an inconvenience to us as humans but we do this for our dogs since otherwise they are the ones being isolated at home without any of their doggie friends around. This is why I try my best at getting my two dogs out once or twice per week if possible so that they can be with others.

Small Dogs Outings Meetup Group Membership Purge

In our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group, I think many members had the right initial intentions when first joining up with us.  But what I noticed recently is that upon a closer look at our membership, a significant number of our members not only have never been out to a single event with us, but they have not even logged onto our group website in over a year.

It is quite clear that for these particular members, our Meetup group has not been meeting their needs and interests.  Therefore I removed about 60 members from our group membership as a purge this long weekend.  We will continue to do this on a rolling basis as other members reach a year without logging in, they will be removed.

Fortunately we do have a regular group of dogs and owners who do come out.  We would much rather have a smaller but active membership than a larger and generally inactive one.  I only hope that the members who have not been active are finding other ways to give their dogs social lives.

For the sake of the overall well being of their dogs, they don’t necessarily have to come out with us as they can go out and socialize with other dogs in their neighbourhoods or other groups.  But if they are not getting any social time with other dogs at all, then the owners are the ones at fault since they have the total control over their pets’ social lives.

These owners of course can come up with all sorts of excuses such as too busy work schedules, etc.   But come on, then why have a dog if you neglect to give it the opportunity to have a rich social life?


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Dogs Make A Place Feel Like Home –

navajo blanket dogs pets home

Dogs Make House Feel Like Home

Recently, I acquired a Navajo native blanket at a local aboriginal pow wow in Ontario.  It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years in order to fill a large space in my living room wall that I have reserved for it.  When I took a photo of it after it was all hung, I decided to include my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie into the shot shown above.

The photo was intended to show how a wall hanging such as a native blanket could warm up a room as part of my special interest website in native aboriginal Indian art.   But sure enough, the inclusion of my dogs also demonstrated that pets have the ability to warm up a room even further.  The combination of both the Navajo blanket wall hanging as well as my dogs really made my living room look like a warm, cozy home.

The photo now shows a place that one would love to come back to since it’s home and also a place to invite guests over.  This is a bit of a contrast to some countries like Honduras where I visited in the spring.  There, dogs stay outside of homes day and night.  Here where I live, our dogs live with us inside our homes and this photo shows that.

Our pets are part of our homes.

By the way, if you would like free ebooks on native aboriginal art, go to my special interest website called Free Spirit Gallery.


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Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group On Summer Schedule –

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Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group

Summer is here with hotter temperatures during the daytime so our Mississauga GTA Small Dogs Outings Meetup group is moving to our summer schedule.   We will continue with our Midweek Walks but with later start times at 8 pm rather than 7 pm.  This will help us utilize the cooler temperatures in the evenings.

However, walking later in the evenings also mean that we won’t be doing as many wooded nature trails since they will be hotbeds for mosquitoes during the evenings.  We’ll stay in well lit residential areas as well as lakefront trails where there are breezes instead.

We will also stop our longer weekend walks since they will be too hot to do for both our dogs and us.  Instead, we’ll try to do some shorter local walks first thing in the morning on some weekends as scheduling allows.

We’ll keep doing our leash free dog park outings too but limit them to 30 minutes and we’ll start them earlier too at 9 am on weekends.  Although some dog owners have told us that they find it hard to get up early on weekends, they will miss the early morning hours when the temperatures are still okay for our dogs before they start to rise at about 10 am.  Then the rest of the day will be too hot.

I think it’s important as dog owners that we keep our dogs fit and if the early mornings are not doable, than it would be the evening outings during midweek that would work.  We cannot let the summer hot weather as an excuse to turn our dogs to unfit and overweight pets.  We just have to work around the summer heat.

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Dog Litter Box Helped When I Was Stuck In Airport –

dog litter box potty training stranded airport overnight

Dog Litter Box Potty Training Helped A Lot

Once again, dog litter box training proved to be extremely helpful for me and my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie.  This week I went on what was suppose to be a very quick business day trip that involved flying from Toronto to Washington DC on Tuesday morning and flying back that same day getting me back home early evening.  Such as trip would not require any overnight stay nor a pet sitter.

When I got on the plane for the 5:15 pm return flight, we were told that there was a short delay in taking off due to a passing lightning storm.  They told us to deplane back in to the terminal by about an hour waiting in the plane.  Shortly after 8 pm, they said that all flights were cancelled for the night due to more storms in the region.

So as we all waited in the long customer service line to rebook our flights for the next day, we were also told that all hotel rooms within a 25 mile radius of the Washington Dulles airport were completely booked up.  I later confirmed this with a call to one of the hotel chains.

Naturally I became concerned about my two dogs since they were not going to see me come home that night.  My rebooked flight was for 9:45 am which meant that I had to be back in the airport to check in by about 8 am.  With the longer transits out to a further hotel and back to the airport the following morning in mind, I decided to just stay at the airport all night instead.

Stranded Overnight At Airport

It turns out that I was not the only stranded passenger as there were lots of others who had to do the same.   Most people tried to sleep on those airport chairs but there was no way I could do it since the arms were fixed resulting in no way anyone can lie down on those.  Some people slept on air vents but these were blowing cold air out so I would certainly not be comfortable on those.

I did see a few people sleep on the floor which was rock hard.  So I ended up sitting on an airport chair listening to some music and getting up to walk around throughout the long night while the overnight cleaning staff were busy doing their duties throughout the terminal.

When the security checks opened up again at about 5 am, I decided to go through since I already got my boarding passes during the late evening when I went to the checkin counter to reconfirm my rebooked flights.   My rebooked flights involved connecting at New York JFK rather than a direct flight to Toronto which would not have been available until the next evening.

It was about 4:30 pm by the time I got through all my flights, ground transfers and drove home.  I was expecting a bit of a mess since I was about 21 hours late getting home.  I had also forgotten to turn on the AC so I was worried that my dogs would get too hot during the daytime.

But when I got home on that Wednesday afternoon, my two dogs Chester and Roxie were both fine.  There was no mess anywhere and neither of them were in distress despite missing two meals and not seeing anyone since Tuesday morning.

They still had water left in the water dish and their dog litter box was fully than usual.  So their dog litter box training once again turned out to be extremely helpful.

Even if I did call my pet sitter while I was stranded in the Washington Dulles airport, she would not have gotten in anyway since I had one set of house keys with me while the other one was inside the house.  So I probably have to review this experience and if I ever go on a fly away day trip again, I should prepare better in case of a delay like this one.

I had to stay in my suit the entire time so what I may do on my next day trip is to pack some extra clothes along with some toiletries like toothbrush in my carry one luggage.  I might also give one set of keys to my pet sitter just in case if I have to call her to come in if I’m delayed overnight somewhere.

As awful as this experience was for me to spend my first night stranded at an airport and for my dogs to miss their daddy coming home on time, it was another success story for indoor dog potty training with a litter box.

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