Let’s celebrate

party hat bigger
The accountants (photographed above) have spoken: We’re able to send a check to Phoenix Animal Care Coalition 911 for another $1,000.

This is all because of caring people like you who have bought and supported Happy Dog Phoenix.

All in all, we have raised more than $2,500 for animal rescue. Way to go everyone!

Recently our neighborhood had two dogs wandering through who had obviously been dumped by their previous humans. They were well-fed, well-behaved, collar-wearing and tagless dogs who seemed bewildered that they had lost their homes.

I am lucky to living in a caring neighborhood and temporary homes were found for the dogs. But while this was being done, many of us, myself included, were just wringing our hands as we tried to figure out what to do.

By supporting organizations like PAC911 that hold large adopt-a-thons where all rescue groups can participate, you are helping dogs like those who were abandoned on our neighborhood streets.

Thanks again for your support! And now onto the next $1,000.



Christmas Spirit

IMG_0081 250
Tired of baking for size-2 people who are still dieting? Giving gifts to those who have everything? And bringing holiday cheer to the un-cheerable?

Then stop!

And start baking some treats for the dog.

It is a sure-fire guarantee to get you in the holiday spirit. The dog loves you anyway and won’t mind any culinary imperfections. The house will have that wonderful fresh-baked smell. And you will have all kinds of clean-up help. (Don’t worry Mom, the bowl goes into the dishwasher to be sterilized — the dog is just the pre-rinse)

Here’s my favorite dog-cookie recipe.

And here’s a ton of other great recipes at one of my favorit cooking sites.

Bone appetit everyone!



Take a Hike/Walk a Dog


hike 500This is such a terrific idea – makes me glad to live where I do!

 One every first Saturday, Maricopa County’s Animal Care and Control brings several adoptable dogs to Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa. People who are interested in a dog can show up, hike along with the dog and maybe walk away with a new family member.

The Wag & Walk Adoption Hike program has already paid off. During November’s first-ever adoption/hike, two dogs were adopted.

 At the very least, people get a chance to hike through the beautiful trails east of Phoenix and the dogs get a chance for some much-appreciated exercise. Hiking also gives the dogs a great chance to show themselves in the best possible light – sometimes; it can be difficult for a dog to act natural if they are in an impersonal setting like a shelter.

 The hike is one mile long along Usery Mountain’s Merkle Trail. It will also feature topics such as trail etiquette and safety tips for dog owners.

Wag & Walk Adoption Hikes are scheduled for the first Saturday of each month through April. Participants are asked to meet at the park’s Merkle Trailhead by 9 a.m. Hikers are reminded to bring water, sun protection and sturdy footwear.

 Friendly leashed dogs are also invited to attend, but must be at least six months of age and current on their vaccinations. Dog owners are asked to bring water, bowl, and bags to pick up after their pet. There is a $6 per vehicle park entry fee.

Shop Local with Your Friend

dog at farmers marketShop local with your friend

This is such a good idea that I almost can’t stand it: Take your well-trained dog with you to one of the many farmers’ markets throughout the metro Phoenix area. It’s a fun weekend outing for you and the dog; it’s a chance to buy local goods and a chance to buy nutritious goods. The mind boggles with all the terrific possibilities from this.

And there may be a dog treat in there for your well-behaved dog.

Some of our favorite weekend farmers’ markets are:


On Saturdays



Get to Know a Pit Bull

Pit-Bull-MythsEducation can come at you from unexpected places.

One of the interviews I did for Happy Dog Phoenix was with Rodrigo Silva, head of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. And the interview was going fine with me asking him about how lost dogs are handled. And then we started talking about taking care of dogs. And I asked him what I thought was a dumb question “What do you think of people who ride their bikes and have their dogs run along side to keep up?’’

Silva’s eyes looked away for a minute and I could tell I had inadvertently struck a nerve.

My dumb question had reminded him of a dog he had loved and lost.

Turns out Silva had had a dog who ran with him as he rode his bike. It was the best way for the dog to burn off some of the never-exhausted energy of his. That dog, of course, was a pit bull.

Silva loved the dog. The dog’s confidence, strength and joy at life.

And then one day, someone poisoned Silva’s dog. He believes they did it because they were scared of the breed not just of his dog.

After Silva told me about this act of ignorant cowardice, we both just stopped for a moment, tears glistening in our eyes. And then we tried to compose ourselves and get back to the business of the interview.

On Saturday, on National Pit Bull Awareness Day, pit bull lovers will meet at Cosmo Dog Park to celebrate their dogs and help people learn more about these misunderstood dogs. It’s a chance to meet some really great dogs and get some education.

Dogs and Halloween


Dogs and Halloween

Two of my favorites.

And apparently, a lot of other people think Halloween and dogs go together like well, miniature  Snickers and my mouth, because there are lot of doggie Halloween events this season throughout metro Phoenix.

Here’s a list of some (let us know of any others):

  • Oct. 19: Beagles, Boos and Brews in central Phoenix: Costume Contest-all types of dogs welcome! Coin Drive, Raffle Prizes and Vendors too! A portion of all restaurant proceeds from 12-4pm will be donated to Arizona Beagle Rescue.
  • Oct. 26: Scottsdale Fall Festival: In addition to costume contests for kids and families, there will be a dog costume contest at 8:35 p.m. All dogs, large and small will participate together.
  • Oct. 26: Dog Halloween Event at W Scottsdale: W Scottsdale, Oh, My Dog Boutique and Lucky Paws Animal Rescue present a Halloween party on W Scottsdale’s outdoor patio and dogs are invited. Dress your dog and yourself in costume for a contest. Prizes awarded for funniest, cutest and most-creative costumes. DJ music, a cash bar and $5 Sushi Roku specialty rolls will be available, along with a Pawtini cocktail for $10 with proceeds benefiting Lucky Paws Animal Rescue. Dogs available for adoption during the event. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to bring pet food, toys or cat litter which will be donated to the rescue.
  • Oct. 31: Halloween in the Hills, Fountain Hills: The Pets N’ Their People costume contest for “Best Human + Pet Costume Combo” will start at 6 p.m., contest registration opens at 5 p.m. Download entry form online and bring it with you. Registration is free, but donations are encouraged and will benefit Pal’s Inn Animal Resort/Rescue Pals of Fountain Hills.
  • Oct. 31: Halloween Festival in Apache Junction: The annual Halloween Festival includes a Howl-o-ween Canine Costume Contest and a K-9 Demo & Safety Talk.
  • Oct. 31Yappy Hour “Howl-oween in Scottsdale”:The resort’s biggest Yappy Hour of the year. No contests, but humans and their pets get dressed up and enjoy happy hour. $10 includes a glass of wine. All proceeds benefit the Arizona Humane Society.

Sadly, the Beagle doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the holiday. Faster than you can say “Hey, I paid $9.99 for those doggie devil horns,’’ she has slid out of her Halloween costume and is looking around for something to eat.

Oh well, I guess we all celebrate Halloween a little differently.

Phoenix’s newest dog park

hance park
Great news for downtown Phoenix dog lovers — there’s a new dog park in their ‘hood.

The Margaret T. Hance Dog Park opens Saturday. It is about an acre on Culver Street between Third and Fifth avenues, with dedicated areas for large and small dogs and big plans for strengthening community spirit.

Dog lovers should cheer the new park’s existence as well as persistence of neighbors to create the park. The lessons these neighbors learned may help others throughout metro Phoenix create their own neighborhood dog parks.

Creating a dog park, in turns out, is more than slapping up some chain link and letting dogs run free.

The push for a downtown dog park started more than two years ago. The initial city of Phoenix committee had more than 70 individuals look at various places to put a park. With that many people on the committee, there were a lot of different ideas to be hashed through: Where should it go? Could it in some small way reduce the downtown heat island? Budget? How to make it palatable to neighbors without dogs? Was creating a dog park coming at the expense of creating basketball courts or recreation areas? How to make it safe for people? And the dogs?

Eventually Hance Park was selected as a site.

That meant even more discussions since the city had even bigger plans for Hance Park.  The central Phoenix park, built on top of the I-10 tunnel, is 32.5 acres but it has never really taken off as a community gathering spot. Its trees didn’t flourish; its water features were turned off and a planned amphitheater and carousel never materialized.

With more people living downtown, many believe Hance Park’s time has come and a new master plan to revitalize the park calls for a possible skate board park, baseball diamond, concert venue as new features.

Some people suggested the dog park just be temporary until details of the master plan were finished.

No, the city of Phoenix said if there was going to be a dog park, it was going to be permanent.

The discussions around the dog park didn’t just happen in city offices; they actually went to court. A neighbor filed a lawsuit trying to stop it but a judge ruled there was no proof that a dog park is detrimental to a neighborhood’s property values.

All this intrigue happened before the first move of the shovel. And then there was even more drama.

The park’s rock wall, selected because of its attractiveness and potential soundproofing, added more than $100,000 to the project’s cost. That meant some last-minute budget cuts: no picnic tables, no large trees. Neighbors were told that larger trees would cost $550 a piece extra and that if they wanted them, they had to collect the money within two weeks.

The neighbors were not dissuaded. They had already sat through hours of meetings, presentations and negotiations and they were determined that their neighborhood have a good park.

Some people opened their checkbooks immediately; others contacted other neighbors and went to surrounding neighborhood associations for funds.  The Willo neighborhood donated more than $1,000 and set up a way for its residents to make matching grants.

Together, they raised more than enough money for the trees before the two-week deadline.

Based on their experiences, the neighbors have created Friends of Hance Dog Park, dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of the park, including having dog-related community events such as dog adoptions.

Members are doing more than putting their money where their mouth is. They are planning to have weekly clean-ups at the dog park to strengthen relations with people who live around the park.

These neighbors were doggedly determined to have a great park for their companions and community. We can all take a lesson from them.

Remember their hard work and enjoy the park!

Welcome Back Fall!

Night temps are dipping into the 70s and we don’t need a portable AC unit every morning when we walk the dog. It’s fall in Phoenix! 

Or as close as we are going to get.

To celebrate the end of summer, here’s a little pumpkin-treat recipe for your poochie. Pumpkin in moderate amount is a good for dogs. It’s a terrific source of fiber and that can help keep your canine fit and trim

Looking for a bone-shaped cookie cutter? Shop local and check out our friends at ABC Cake Decorating Supplies on Indian School Road and 28th Street in Phoenix

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats
Recipe snagged from Allrecipes.com


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes

Makes about 25 treats


Bark in the Park

dog at baseball stadium

Bark in the Park is such a fun thing.

On Sunday, you get to take your little buddy, the dog, to a ballgame in downtown Phoenix to see the Arizona Diamondback whip up on the Giants.

You, the dog, the family can all go to the game. You could even be the Paul Goldschmidt of the group (baseball reference) and hot dogs for everyone!

Check out our calendar entry for Bark in the Park 2013.

Want to make a day of it? Coach & Willies as well as Majerle’s Sports Grill  welcome dogs on the patio, incase you and the pooch want to make a pit stop before the game.

Speaking of pit stops, there’s a grassy area located outside Chase Field’s Gate K (northeast entry) that is designated as an animal-relief area.

And if you get the fever for more dog friendly baseball games, check out the games with our division rivals:


Danger to Dogs

Taking-a-Break1-590x392A version of my column appeared in The Arizona Republic Friday June 1.

It’s the time of the year when we get those great reminders about not leaving our dogs in the car.

But now that temperatures are getting toastier, we should also remember to
closely watch our dogs on hiking trails, regular walks and even in backyards.

Unfortunately, dogs can die from routine outdoor activities just as they can from being left in a car.

Vets throughout Arizona say they see it all the time during summer: a dog on a simple outing gets heat stroke by being out at the wrong time of day, being out of shape or just not getting enough water.

Unlike your slacker hiking buddies, most dogs will push themselves to the point of heatstroke to keep up with you. So summer is not the time for dogs who were wintertime couch potatoes to take up hiking.

I have an older Beagle and we also get up before the sunrise during the summer. Instead of hitting a hiking trail, we opt for a nearby golf course, which allows us to walk on grass rather than hot surfaces. I also have neighbors close by in case of emergencies.

On the trail and in the great outdoors, there are other simple precautions to protect your dog:

  • Dogs are not dainty drinkers. They can slop out that water you carried in for them, so make sure to bring extra. Bring at least 18 ounces of water for your pet for every hour of planned walking.
  • Choose trails you (and the dog) are familiar with. This is not the time to explore new territory.
  • Know where the nearest vet is just in case
  • Brush your dog’s undercoat to remove extra weight before getting on the trail.
  • Use ties and vests that can be chilled before being placed upon your dog. Don’t put ice directly against your dog’s coat, however.

Given all these precautions and the possibility of danger to our dogs, why even go out during the summer? It’s a question, I ask myself even morning as I fumble for the leash and stumble out of the house for our pre-dawn walks.

Yet, the answer always comes to me almost immediately. My dog sees the world completely differently than I do. To walk with her is to get a different perspective on a sometimes difficult-to-understand place. Her joy, curiosity and excitement at what we encounter along the walk   prepares us both for a better day.

But, dog and human alike, we just have to be careful out there.