Cookie recipes for the dog

peter and pickle love christmas cookies
Christmas is only days away but surely, you have done the shopping, wrapping and delivering? Well, let’s pretend that you have. It’s going to be relatively chilly in Phoenix the next couple days — why not hunker down and bake some cookie treats for your best friend, the dog?

I love baking for the dog and her pals. They are a non-judgmental, hungry, even greedy group of gourmets who like everything that gets put in front of them, foodwise.

christmas cookies for dogs

Dog cookies galore

In the morning, I walk into the kitchen, where there are tubs of dog cookies and I’m not tempted by any of these ‘treats”. I give these cookies away at cookie exchanges and everyone is happy to walk away with a box of goodies that won’t affect their waistline. I also give away the cookies to neighbors and colleagues and it’s a great way to start up a conversation. Something along the lines of “You have dogs? I have dogs. Now, can you get me that report before I expire from old age? Happy holidays!”

But the biggest thing of all: baking for the dog gets me into the holiday spirit of giving. Not the type of giving that happens because you feel compelled to go out and buy a gift but the better kind of giving: the simple act of doing something out of love in your heart and knowing that it will bring a smile to another person (or creature). The joy that comes from that really lightens my heart, especially in these darker times.

Dog-cookie recipes

And without further woo-woo ado, here are this year’s dog cookie recipes. I made them all and I cheerfully comment on all of them:

  • Alexander’s Peanut Butter Dog Biscuit Treats: the first I ever baked and I still love them. This year, I used small heart-shaped cookie cutters on these and they turned out very sweet!
  • Calvin’s Christmas Cookies: Very festive — somehow it always reminds me of the Flinstones. Just absolutely push down those cranberries and pumpkin seeds into the dough or they will plop out once baking is done.
  • Homemade Dog Treats — I thought the peanut-butter/bacon glaze for the treats would be the bomb but then I had doubts about frying that much bacon to get the bacon fat for the glaze. And I thought about how bacon fat isn’t good for the dog, so I opted for the coconut oil option. Freeze the treats to get the glaze to really stick. Next year, I think I am just going to smear some peanut butter on the cookie and forgo the glaze.

And that’s the joy of making cookies for dogs!

Happy holidays everyone!

 

Gifts for the dog this holiday season

You know you are getting the dog a gift this holiday — a little something extra.

Why not shop local?

The metro Phoenix area is home to a lot of great entrepreneurs who love dogs as much as you do and their products/stores show it!

Plus, when you visit these local stores and vendors, they welcome your dog as well as you!

Green beans for Thanksgiving blues

Artie snubbing green beans

 

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did but we are all experiencing some food hangovers. Too much sugar, salt, carbs, etc. etc and neither the dog nor I are feeling exactly tip-top.  Fortunately, for her, the Thanksgiving leftovers include green beans.

I studiously avoid overcooking green beans. They get just a quick dip in some boiling water until they are tender but still crisp. Then I toss them into some ice-cold water and they retain a bright green color and an actual vegetal taste. And they are good in the refrigerators through the weekend.

The beagle and green beans

Whenever I snap fresh green beans to get them ready for cooking, I have help. Artie the Beagle is very fond of them  and will just eat a fresh one from my hand (except of course, when I am videotaping her and then she just snubs them, like the little perplexing princess that she is.)

Artie has had good luck with green beans before. As a rescue dog with Arizona Beagle Rescue, she had some weight to lose after being in the pound. Arizona Beagle Rescue has had good results with green beans and so Artie was used to getting a little extra dose of fiber in her dog bowl.

I didn’t realize that when I agreed to foster her from beagle rescue. She and a guest dog had arrived just in time for Thanksgiving and I was busy in the kitchen cooking up some make-ahead side dishes for a family meal, when I felt like I was being watched. I looked down and indeed, there were two dogs circling around my legs like piranhas looking for their next meal. Who knew the power of green beans?

Why green beans?

Green beans are chock full of important vitamins and minerals, such as protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. They’re also full of fiber and are low in calories.

There is such a thing for dogs as the green-bean diet, in which you up your dog’s consumption of these fiberrific veggies until it is half of their diet. One vet weighs in that this may be too drastic approach to doggie weight loss.

I just use the green beans as an alternative to treats and when the cameras aren’t rolling, Artie loves them. (What about turkey – what’s the verdict on giving the dog another leftover staple?)

Now if only I could be satisifed with veggies as snacks….that would be a true holiday miracle!

Coyotes in central Phoenix Part: 2

coyote in central Phoenix
So, last week I wrote about a problem in our central Phoenix neighborhood distressing to us dog people: coyotes.

I had one lounging on my front yard and others have seen them sauntering through the ‘hood. These coyotes are not particularly scared of us and the Arizona Game and Fish Department advice of walking tough and acting big and frightening isn’t working.

Worried about my dog, the neighbor’s small dogs and kids playing at Encanto Park, where apparently a den of them live, I called my City Councilperson Laura Pastor.

The City Council’s advice about coyotes

I talked with a very nice guy there who said he would do some research and get back to me. After a lot of missed calls, we connected. Got to give him an “A” for effort.

The advice….

First he suggested talking with neighbors who feed stray cats because the cat food and the cats themselves attract coyotes.

But we both realized that the kind-hearted people who do that may not want to stop feeding the cats and there is nothing that can be done about that.

Then, he suggested making sure all the garbage can lids were secure and not easy to open to deprive them of an easy source of food. Fair enough. I can do a quick survey of the alleys and report back to the city.

Lastly, he suggested super soakers. Apparently coyotes hate water as much as cats do. And a blast from a super soaker will annoy them enough to make them run off.

Ok.

I can get a super soaker and place it by the front door and blast at any coyotes from the safety of my screened front door. But I am not walking through my neighborhood streets, armed with a super soaker. Hell no. It gets dark early this time of year and the last thing my neighbors need to see is me walking through the streets with a suspicious weapon-looking like thing.

So, there’s the advice. Take it for what it is worth. The city is not calling out the coyote SWAT team.

What I am going to do

I’m sticking with the golf-club/cane as a deterrent; also I’m trying to walk with neighbors at the same time. And I’m talking with any neighbor I can find to tell them about the situation and get them to think about what they can do to stop this.

At times, I feel like I’m “chicken little” about coyotes — “the sky is falling and it’s raining coyotes” but there have been cases of dogs being attacked and there are a lot curious kids at Encanto Park who may confuse coyotes for a different type of dog. it just seems like more could be done.

Coyotes in Central Phoenix

coyotes in central phoenix

We face a problem in our central Phoenix neighborhood: coyotes.

Amid all the new condos being built, there is a den of coyotes living on the Encanto Park/ Encanto Park Golf Course. And me and my other dog-loving neighbors worry about it.

Technically speaking, coyotes are part of the dog family but they also have been known to kill their canine cousins, especially smaller dogs.

If coyotes are in your neighborhood

In writing Happy Dog Phoenix, I contacted Arizona Game and Fish Department for advice about coyotes in the neighborhood (never thinking they would make it my central Phoenix ‘hood). They told me that if you see a coyote yell at it, wave your arms, make noise to scare it off. And remove all sources of food and water.

All fine advice.

Except I live next to large fields with plenty of hiding spots and small lakes. And lots of feral cats. I have good-hearted neighbors who feed stray cats, some of whom inevitably will become coyote food. There’s also other good-hearted neighbors, who see coyotes as just another one of Nature’s creatures and say we should just let them be.

I wish I could be so good hearted

But instead I selfishly worry about my little roly-poly potential coyote entrée, the Beagle, who would have no idea how to protect herself if attacked. She’s a goofball, not a fighter.

Would coyotes go after her? If the supply of feral cats decreases and the number of coyotes increase, they may.  Also, these coyotes are not afraid. I yelled and screamed at the coyote lounging on my front yard, and he just gave me a look, a shrug and sauntered off into the neighbor’s yard. Another neighbor has to charge them with an air horn to get them to move.

 What I am doing

Normally when I write a blog, I try to offer a solution. Right now, I have none. Except carrying a used golf club when I walk the dog, further cementing my reputation as a neighborhood eccentric.

On Monday, I contacted Phoenix Parks and Recreation. The first woman asked me to repeat my address because she couldn’t believe there were coyotes this far south. She transferred me to another woman who explained that they had unsuccessfully tried  to capture the coyotes but they can’t do anything more until the coyotes become aggressive.

I explained that I thought that was just waiting for trouble, especially if the coyotes are living on Encanto Park, which can be filled with children during weekends. By her silence, she indicated that it wasn’t her decision.

Then, I then called my City Council representative, Laura Pastor and spoke to someone who promised to get back to me. For the past two days, we have played phone tag — not his fault.

I’ll let you know what I find out.

In the meantime, beware of coyotes in central Phoenix and of strange women walking dogs and carrying golf clubs.

 

Happy Halloween!

halloween and dogs

Have you got your little “boos” ready for Halloween? There a lot Halloween-events for dogs in metro Phoenix area this year. Here’s a rundown of terrific spots for you and the dog that offer canines and their humans costume contests and parties

And  for the first time ever, Happy Dog Phoenix is staging a virtual costume contest! Just post a photo of your dog on our Facebook page and get the most likes and get a $100 gift card for your favorite animal rescue. Deadline Monday at midnight!!

Halloween events for dogs in metro Phoenix

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Flagstaff road trip!

Attention: residents of Phoenix. It is hot, still hot. You’ve still got time this Labor Day weekend to head up to Flagstaff, which may be Arizona’s most dog-friendly town.

In fact, it may be easier to list the places that aren’t dog friendly in Flagstaff than those that area — especially in downtown, historic Flag, where there dogs in all the best places.
dog friendly flagstaff

Shopping in Flagstaff with your dog

You know how sometimes stores say they are dog friendly but you get a way-different vibe once you and poochie get inside? In Flagstaff, they offer genuine hospitality for dogs. There’s water bowls, dog treats and even resident dogs in the stores. Check out the art galleries along San Francisco street for a lot of love for dogs as well as dog-related art.

biffs bagels flagstaff

Dining with the dog

For breakfast, hit Biff’s Bagels, which is named after a beloved pet and has photos of everyone else’s dog on the wall. For lunch, wow — so many choices. Charley’s on Aspen and Leroux has a great dog-friendly patio. Or Mix.  Or Macy’s. Or Mother Road Brewery. Or any others from our fine list.

roxy at tuthill fairgrounds

Hiking with the dog

You don’t have to be a super wilderness person to enjoy a hike with your dog. There are a lot of mild trails out there — which is especially nice since you and the dog may not have been as active during this hot summer season. Altitude change can also affect breathing for you and the dog.

There are several dog-friendly park trails throughout Flagstaff. Just have a leash and plenty of water.

 

  • Wilson Meadow at Hart Prairie:  A hike that can go as short as you want it to go. Wilson Meadow offers plenty of romping room and a pond to swim in (That’s for the dog; not you).
  • Griffith Spring Trail: Another short hike that allows your dog to wade in a creek.

Drinking with the dog

After a hard day of shopping, dining and hiking, it’s great to kick back with an adult beverage. Your best friend can come into the bar with you as long as the fine establishment doesn’t serve food. And that’s why we can get great scenes like this one at Hops on Birch:

dog in bar, Flagstaff AZ

Helping dogs hurt by Texas floods

dogs hurt by Texas floods
It’s stinkin’ hot now in Phoenix but I’m not complaining. Our heat is nothing compared to the floods and resulting anguish that people and animals in Texas.

Have you seen the video of the folks who are cradling and carrying other peoples’ animals to get to safety? I tear up every time I think of it.

What can people in Phoenix do to help our fellow dog lovers and their dogs displaced and harmed by the floods?

Donate money to flood animal victims

Phoenix’s own PetSmart Charities has already made an initial commitment of $1 million that will go to pet food and other supplies for shelters and other organizations. You can help support their work by donating here.

The Humane Society of the United States Animal Rescue Team has volunteers, equipment, and rescue vehicles currently working from Corpus Christi to Texas City to San Antonio.

The ASPCA is on the ground with search-and-rescue, sheltering and relocation teams in Houston and much of Harvey’s path. They are asking for monetary donations or membership within the organization to support ongoing rescue efforts.

No matter what organization you select, donating money is key. You may want to just drive over to Texas with a truck full of dog food. It’s a great idea but it is still flooding theree, the roads are a mess and you can donate safely and effectively with just a couple clicks of a mouse.

Keep it local

Want to keep your donations more local?

Go online and donate to:

Beware of flood scams

Vultures who prey upon these types of situations are already setting up phony relief efforts and telemarketing efforts. Don’t be fooled! Check out any organization you give money by looking them up at Charity Navigator which already has a Hurricane Harvey specific section.

Gimme shelter

Already shelters as far as New Jersey are flying dogs to their facilities to be fostered. No word yet if any Harvey dogs are coming to Phoenix. If we hear, we will let you know. And if your foster group is taking any in, please let us know – we would love to get the word out.

Dogs and dog lovers everywhere, take care!

Raccoons and dogs may not mix

raccoons in central Phoenix?
As someone living in Phoenix with a dog, you tend to be worried about coyotes and javalina but what about the animal kingdom’s masked banditos, raccoons?

You could have raccoons in your neighborhood, even if you live in the middle of the city. Areas around the Arizona Biltmore, north central Phoenix and Moon Valley attract the intelligent, nocturnal, omnivorous creatures. They are drawn to these areas’ supplies of water (canals, golf course lakes) and tall trees in which they can roost.

Cue the raccoons

But what they love best is easy-to-get food. Does your neighborhood have a lot of feral cats and tender-hearted neighbors who like to feed these cats? Cue the raccoons. They love outdoor buffets and will enjoy going from house to house eating food left out for cats.

If you have a raccoon in your neighborhood, what does this mean for your dog? Aren’t raccoons vicious, dangerous and full of rabies? What happens if a raccoon bites your dog?

Well, good news. The Arizona variety of raccoons don’t carry as many diseases as their East Coast cousins, who can easily have rabies, according to Darren Julian, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Think of it as karmic payback for us Arizonans having to deal with coyotes, scorpions, javalina and other desert threats to our dogs. At least we don’t have to freak out about raccoons.

What to worry about

However….

Although they aren’t carriers of disease, raccoons can get violent toward dogs especially if they feel boxed in. A cornered, angry raccoon can bite and scratch a dog something fierce. And while the Arizona variety may not have rabies, they can leave bites that left untreated could develop into bad infections.

If you have the critters in the area, just keep an eye on your dog at night to discourage any dog/raccoon skirmishes, Julian says.

And if you want to live in a raccoon-free area, he suggests changing the way you or your neighbors feed stray cats. One method would be to encourage the cats to come into to be fed at regular times instead of the free-feeding method.

Free-feeding can encourage free loaders, even those cute, pesky little raccoons.

 

 

 

 

Monsoons and your dog

help your dog during storm
It’s that time in Phoenix, when the monsoon storm clouds roll in and dogs sneak under beds to escape the booming sounds. Does your dog suffer during this rainy, noisy season?

Happy to report that in this house the Beagle is can hear a cheese bag rustle from three doors down but she seems tone deaf to thunder and lightening.

We asked Alexis Siler, clinical assistant professor, Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic for her suggestions on helping dogs during monsoon season:

How can I calm my dog when it thunders outside during monsoons?

ThunderShirts can be helpful if your dog is fearful or anxious during storms. They hug your dog’s body to apply gentle pressure to hopefully make them feel more secure.

Often dogs will try to hide to avoid thunderstorms. If your dog seems anxious or restless, you may want to try providing a safe place for him to go. This secure space should be readily available, especially if nobody is home. You can also try closing doors and windows. Or you can use white noise or music to block out the sounds.

If your dog is food motivated, you can engage them in fun exercises like food puzzle toys, etc.

You might try playing recordings of thunderstorm sounds and pairing that with pleasant outcomes, such as treats or a new toy, to desensitize your dog to storms.

If your dog exhibits extreme or persistent anxiety, consult with your veterinarian since these animals may need rapidly-acting anti-anxiety medications.

Are there things I shouldn’t do during the monsoon?

It’s also important not to panic or show your dog your own anxiety to avoid making it worse for them.  Any change in your behavior (holding, cuddling, consoling, etc.) can easily condition a fear response and exacerbate the anxious behavior.

If your dog’s anxiety is minimal and recovers quickly, ignore the behavior so he may adapt to storms.

Why does my dog freak out during thunderstorms?

Fear of thunderstorms is a common concern. One thought is that loud noises from overhead are difficult for dogs to orient to, which makes them anxious.  Many dogs adjust to the sounds of a thunderstorm, but some are more sensitive and the fear can become worse with each exposure. The degree of anxiety a dog feels is based on the dog’s perception of the noise as a threat.

Are certain breeds more affected than others?

Thunderstorm phobias can occur in any breed, but some believe herding breeds and cross-breeds are at an increased risk.