Day 12 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

Halloween is just about here…yikes!

It’s almost time to light up the pumpkins, hand out the candy, and dress up in costumes. With all the wonderful decorations that this time of year brings I love taking pictures of everything, and there’s no better time than to take some festive photos of Simon and Rosee. To be honest though, did I really need yet another reason to take photos of Simon and Rosee?

(Psst, the answer is no.)

So I thought I would share a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years, through much trial and error, that can be useful when trying to take your own holiday inspired photo of your dog.

  • Exercise.
    • Whether you take your dog on a walk or just play a rousing game of fetch in your own backyard, exercising your dog before you take a photo can be helpful. In order to take a photo of your dog you’re going to be asking them to sit/lay down and stay for an extended period of time. By exercising prior to the photo your dog can get all their excess energy out and be better able to focus when you give them a command. Also, I’ve found that by exercising Simon and Rosee prior to the photo, they end up panting (in order to cool down) and in the photo it ends up looking like they’re smiling.
  • Basic commands are a must.
    • Basic commands such as “sit,” “lay down,” “stay,” and “focus” (or whatever word you may use to get your dog to look at you) are important when trying to take a staged photo of your dog. It’s helpful for your dog to know a few basic commands because then it is easier to give them direction. In particular, if your dog is larger and not one that you can hold in your arms or on your lap being able to give them a command helps keep them in the right position while you take your photo.
  • Treats can be helpful.
    • Just like when you first start training with your dog treats can provide a great incentive for your dog to listen to what you’re asking them to do. Even more helpful though, is that a high value treat can also be used to gain your dog’s attention. This is especially important if you’re trying to take a photo with your dog and so no one is actually behind the camera (AKA a camera timer is used), and so your dog may not understand where to look. By placing a treat next to, or even on the camera, your dog may better be able to focus on the treat and so end up looking right at the camera for your photo.
  • Keep things simple.
    • While this may be a staged photo that you’re taking, try to make things simple. Some props are nice, but don’t make things too complicated because too many props can be distracting. If things are overly complicated, then you’re most likely bound to end up disappointed. Also, typically taking a photo outside rather than inside is easier because natural light is better and easier to work with. You won’t have the glare of the sun coming through a window or reflecting off of a nearby surface.
  • Keep calm, and don’t freak out because in the end, this is supposed to be fun.
    • It’s always great to have some idea or vision of what you want your photo to look like, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan. That’s fine. Go with the flow while trying to photograph your dog. If something’s not working, then take a break and try again, or maybe even try a different set up altogether. Remember, taking a festive photo of your dog is supposed to be fun! We take photos for entertainment and to  capture memories, so make this an enjoyable one. Sometimes the best photos are the ones taken that were never even planned.

So go forth and take some pictures!

Because, really, what is life without some fun pictures with our dogs?

 

Day 11 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

As October 31st looms closer and closer we thought it was time to try a little trick-or-treating.

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Rosee is ready for some trick-or-treating.

It’s an essential part of Halloween and one we made sure to celebrate for our own Howl-oween celebration with Simon and Rosee.  Originally, we actually attended a Howl-oween party put on by a (semi)local pet hotel, and it was supposed to include doggie trick-or-treating, a costume contest, and pictures with Cruella de Vil. It seemed like fun and all of the proceeds were donated to an animal shelter or other animal-related cause. Great idea, right? Unfortunately, the event was quite a disappointment. In fact, it was such a disappointing experience, that I don’t think words are quite enough to express just how disappointed I was. So, we ultimately decided to a redo and took Simon and Rosee trick-or-treating in our own spooktacular front yard.

We simply hid some dog treats around our yard and throughout the various Halloween decorations.

Both dogs had fun and got a few extra treats for all of their hard work. Of course, by sniffing out their hidden treats they ended up performing a trick in order to earn their treat!

Even George got in on the trick-or-treating fun and tried to steal some dog treats.

Dust off your Halloween bags and ready the treats because Howl-oween is almost here!

Day 10 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

Remember that second birthday I mentioned earlier this week?

Well, the second birthday of the month of October that also happens to coincide with Halloween is Rosee’s 5th birthday!

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I know for dogs (and other animals too, probably) birthdays don’t mean as much to them as they do for us humans. Yet, I can’t help but feel that Rosee’s 5th birthday is really a big milestone. I mean, she’s finally a whole handful! More importantly, by turning five Rosee is officially an adult dog. By age five dogs should be out of their growing phases, meaning they’re not teenagers anymore. Thank goodness!

Still, I can’t quite believe that Rosee is five years old. It’s almost unbelievable that she’s been a part of our lives for so long, and yet it seems that the time has flown by so quickly at the same time. She’s grown so much over this past year especially, and while I still like to think of her as my puppy (mainly because she’s the youngest), she is most definitely an adult dog.

Rosee listens better, is more focused on her humans rather than getting distracted by outside influences, she’s learning not to be afraid of other dogs and can walk past them (as long as she has some space) without issue, and she doesn’t try to test her boundaries as much as she once did (meaning she doesn’t steal the TV remote anymore). Don’t get me wrong she is still full of spunk and spice, but she channels it into more appropriate behaviors. For instance, when anyone arrives home she grabs her bone to bring to them as they enter the door rather than jump on them in her excitement. Win!

Life really is never dull with Rosee in our lives and I know we wouldn’t have things any other way.

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Happy 5th Birthday Rosee!

Day 9 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

Move over jack-o-lanterns because pup-o-lanterns are all the rage this year!

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I love my dogs and what better way to show off my love for them than to carve their face (or at least as close as I could) into a pumpkin for Halloween.

My pup-o-lantern may have started off as just a regular, orange pumpkin, but it definitely had a dream of being transformed into something special. All I needed was a pumpkin, a stencil, a small carving knife, a pumpkin shaver, some tape and a whole lot of determination.

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To begin, I started by cutting off the top of my pumpkin and cleaning out the middle. Honestly, this part of the process is the longest and definitely most labor intensive as well. However, making sure that your pumpkin’s inside is clean is most important because you don’t want any stringy bits obscuring all your hard work.

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Next, I taped my stencil to the front surface of my pumpkin and used my knife to make a shallow dotted line along the stencil lines so that I would know where exactly to cut. You could, of course, leave the stencil on while you carve your pumpkin, but this can be difficult since pumpkin juice can make your paper stencil rip and tear. I found a pit bull stencil off of the sheknows website, who kindly put together a slideshow of 19 printable dog patterns for carving. I did end up enlarging the stencil though, because otherwise a few of the lines were a little too close together for comfort.

Then I took my carving knife and carefully cut out all the sections that were cut out (the dark grey parts of the stencil), and continued on to shave the sections indicated (the light grey sections of the stencil). While I did use a fancy-ish carving knife and shaver, any knife should work. Although, I did find that a smaller, thinner knife did help me cut the more detailed areas easier.

Finally, all I had left to do was put in a couple LED electric candles in my pup-o-lantern and wait for the sun to set.

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So, whether you are ambitious enough to use a stencil to carve your own pup-o-lantern or stick to simple shapes to make a basic face or paw print (because really that’s just a cluster of ovals), any pup-o-lantern is sure to be awesome!

Day 8 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

Is there seriously anything more awesome than pumpkin this time of the year?

I mean, during the Fall season just about pumpkin-everything is available. From pumpkin spiced coffees, teas, flavored gums and candies, pancakes, and we can’t forget the giant refrigerated case at Costco that holds nothing but pumpkin pies. Then there are the numerous ways in which we can use pumpkins, whether it is for decorations inside and outside of the house, to make homemade pumpkin pies, and of course, there’s the classic use of pumpkins to create jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.

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Yet, did you know that pumpkin can also be nutritious for our dogs?

Yes, in fact it seems that pumpkin mania doesn’t just have to be for us humans, and can be a nutritious snack for our dogs. For the most part, pumpkin is considered to be of good use for dogs with upset stomachs and tummy troubles. For instance, when either Rosee or Simon experience tummy troubles we feed them some plain cooked white rice and boiled chicken (as advised by our vet), however some dogs, like my brother’s dog Trigger, don’t handle grain very well and pumpkin can be a better option. Furthermore, pumpkin can be a good source of fiber, beta-carotene as well as numerous other vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial to our pups. Just remember it’s best used in moderation as a treat!

Plain canned pumpkin is the easiest way to provide your dogs with a tasty treat, but fresh pumpkin can be good too as long as you’re up for the challenge of cutting, cleaning, and storing it. Just make sure that any pumpkin you buy (at least in the canned form) is only plain pumpkin. Do not use pumpkin pie filling or any sort of spiced pumpkin mix since these other additives can further upset your dog’s stomach or even be toxic (for instance if the pumpkin pie filling contains xylitol).

I mean really, just when I thought I couldn’t love pumpkin anymore.

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For even more information on pumpkin and the benefit for your dog make sure to check out the links below.

References:

https://www.dogids.com/blog/pumpkin-for-dogs/

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-pumpkin-help-with-dog-diarrhea/

http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/nutrition/3-health-benefits-pumpkin-dogs

 

P.S. We’re past the halfway mark in our celebration here of the 13 Days of Halloween, but we still have lots left to come, so make sure to check back for more Halloween-inspired fun!

Day 7 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

“You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil”

From the Sorting Hat’s Song, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, pg. 118.

So, which Hogwarts school house has Simon found himself sorted into?

Clearly, Simon is not a Gryffindor. This is a dog that limps when he steps on tiny pebbles and whines when he gets a bath with only lukewarm water.

He is definitely not a Ravenclaw. He just doesn’t seem to have the patience or attention span to devote to learning. During every training class we ever took him to, he would tire out within minutes of starting exercises and then just refuse to do anything. It always drove me insane!

Similarly, he is no Slytherin. That dog may try to act strong and tough, but again it only lasts for about five minutes until the real boss comes to assess the situation—of course, I’m talking about Rosee here.

So, that leaves only one wonderful possibility: Simon is a Hufflepuff.

Certainly, Simon exemplifies most of the well-known Hufflepuff character traits. He is loyal, always sticking to his people. He is just and fair-minded, always looking so incredibly sad if Rosee gets a treat and he hasn’t (though the delay in treat is simply due to the few seconds it takes to get another treat of the bag). He is also extremely friendly, never having met a face he did not want to lick.

Simon is a true Hufflepuff, and the color of his coat, a sort of yellowish-brown, has already got him close to wearing Hufflepuff’s signature colors proudly day-in and day-out!

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Seriously though, Simon loves everyone. He just wants to jump up and lick faces any chance he can get. Don’t get too low to the floor, because he’ll take advantage of your closeness and cover you with kisses!

Unlike his sister Rosee, Simon is very open and fair about his wants, likes, and play habits. If he wants his chew toy or bone, he simply sits in front of the container it is kept in and barks patiently for it. I’m pretty sure the boy doesn’t have a sneaky, clever bone in his body. And if he does . . . well, he’s not very good at keeping it concealed.

Simon also doesn’t mind a little hard work, always willing to take his humans out on increasingly longer walks—especially with the weather cooling down. Oh, how he loves his three mile walks every single day!

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He’s ready to keep walking!

His loyalty and love for his humans knows no bounds. No matter how taxing his day has been, he is always waiting on the couch by the door for his humans to get home from being out playing all day. (Seriously, he wants to know what they’ve been doing all day without him!)

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If only his humans could get home faster then he wouldn’t fall asleep waiting for them!

He is the perfect complement to his Slytherin sister Rosee, balancing out her slyness and determination with never-ending happiness and goodwill.

Now, if he could only get the Ravenclaws in the house to put down their books, and take him on even more walks . . .

Happy almost Halloween everyone!

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(I think he’s ready for this costume-thing to end.)

Day 6 of 13 Days of Halloween (2017)

“Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,

Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.” 

From the Sorting Hat’s Song, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, pg. 118.

Finding real friends, putting that cunning personality to work, and achieving their ends no matter what? You know, that sounds like a certain Pit Bull I live with . . .

After a recent trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, Theresa and I came to the unanimous decision that Rosee is a Slytherin. She’s a true friend to those she deems worthy enough, she takes what she wants no questions asked (or commands heeded sometimes), and she is quite clever when she’s not snoring away on the couch.

But that’s not all there is: girl looks good in green too!

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As a Slytherin Rosee is quite clearly an ambitious and strong leader, one that is always determined to get her way. She makes sure to always get her favorite spot on the couch, even going so far as to bark at us humans incessantly until we get up and move. If barking doesn’t work, or at the very least doesn’t work immediately, she has no shame in using those terribly endearing puppy eyes on the human sitting in her spot. Those eyes will make you give up almost anything to her!

This girl is also determined to always be in front of the pack. Whenever we are out on a walk she wants to be the one in front, faithfully leading Simon down the street and to the park. She makes sure to alert her humans to any problems coming up ahead and always keep her nose to the ground in search for interesting scents worthy of following up on. Rosee certainly makes it her mission in life to convince everyone that she is in fact the older sibling, and not the younger sister.

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She’s ready to go.

Aside from her more outward personality traits, she’s got this sneaky streak that usually means chewed up shoes for the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if you leave out slippers, sandals, flip-flops, sneakers, boots—you name it, she wants to chew it. And she’s so clever about it too! She bides her time, waiting until your back is turned and your shoes have been left unattended, even just for a moment, and then she attacks! She performs this slow methodical walk past you, acting completely normal until she can get her mouth on your shoe and then she’s gone. And if you don’t get the shoe back in the next few minutes, well then you can just kiss it goodbye because all she needs is three minutes to shake your poor shoe apart. Shoes are her favorite vice, with clean, freshly laundered socks being a close second. The girl obviously knows how to be clever and resourceful, lulling you and your shoes into a false sense of security.

Of course, Rosee’s love of shoes, socks, barking for her spot on the couch, and using her puppy eyes all lead to a Slytherin’s most useful character trait, “a certain disregard for the rules,” as one Albus Dumbledore described. That’s right, Rosee is not one for rules. She knows how to go and “park it” on her bed, and even to “stay,” but on the days where something more interesting is going on outside the window or her bone is laying just a tad out of reach, “park it” and “stay” become less commands and more like ignorable suggestions. I’m sure this attitude is more of her humans’ lack of following through on both commands when she was younger (and something we aptly work toward correcting now), but she’s also just a hard-headed little girl and when she’s in the house and doesn’t want to do something, she just doesn’t do it.

She’s just a girl ready to do things her own way.

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Rosee’s version of parking it.

What can I say, my little Slytherin is just too cute to confine to rules sometimes! (But don’t let that Pit Bull smile blind you; she is always a good and attentive girl when out in the world on her walks!)

I hope this update on Rosee’s Hogwarts school house provided you with a Halloween treat! Tune in next time to find out what house Simon has found himself sorted into. Any guesses?