Fertilizer blues and the dog

artie trying to sample fertilizer on winter grass
Ah, fall in Phoenix. Can you smell the Pumpkin Spice Latte? Actually, in our neighborhood (and possibly yours) the smell of fall comes more from the fertilizer on people’s new winter lawns and less from brewing coffee. And that winter grass means all kinds of problems for my dog when we go on our daily walks.

In our neighborhood, many people over-seed their Bermuda grass with perennial ryegrass which grows lush and deep during the winter. Yes, those lawns do take a lot of water to maintain but geez, they look so nice!

But for my dog (and possibly yours), over-seeding time seems like an early Halloween, especially if your dog likes to eat poop. (No judgment here: dogs eat poop because well, they just do.) Think about it: Like Halloween, over-seeding time comes in the fall; one of the best parts is going house to house for “treats’’ and there can be a stomachache at the end. Sounds like over-seeding in my hood!

Protecting your dog from poop and pigeons

So this time of year, my neighbors mow their grass really low and clear out dead and unhealthy Bermuda grass with de-thatchers. The optimum time to over-seed in Arizona is right now, the first two weeks of October, or when the evening temperatures consistently stay below 65.

After the scalping, my hard-working neighbors throw grass seed over their now-naked yards.

Then problems begin. Pigeons flock into the yards to eat the grass seed; some OD on the stuff, and become sluggish and easier for dogs to bring down. (The previous beagle could bring down a pigeon and basically eat it in one gulp; the Current Beagle is a little more finicky.) But still the dog is now fixated on those plump, slow-moving pigeons. She tries to chase down every single one of them.

Compounding the problem is that after the pigeon-stuffing grass seed goes down, fertilizer is piled up high on the lawns. Most gardeners use a starter fertilizer that is a 6-20-20 (6-percent nitrogen, 20-percent phosphorus, 20-percent potassium) or 15-15-15 (15 percent each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) mix.

Whatever the chemical composition is, it spells deliciousness for the Beagle, who is always willing to sample some new delicacy that could involve poop of any kind, regardless of which animal it came from. So, invariably, we bound into the neighbor’s newly fertilized yard. The string-and-tinfoil concoctions that neighbors put up to scare away pigeons are no match my determined beagle. Poop, pigeons, here we come!

Fertilizer: gross but is it dangerous?

Turns out the Beagle isn’t alone. Dogs eating fertilizer is pretty common, reports the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In fact, calls about pets eating lawn and garden products were among its top 10 toxin calls in 2007.

Some dogs will tear open fertilizer bags to eat every last morsel. Most fertilizer ingestions cause mild GI upset and are not a huge concern, according to ASPCA. But the dogs who chow down on the whole bag can get bloated or experience some muscle stiffness or soreness after ingestion.

So, bottom line: the fertilizer may be dangerous and it is definitely kinda gross.

Happy Fall everyone; watch out for the poop and pigeons!

 

 

Walking the dog safely at night

 

how to keep your dog safe at night
Feel that nip in the Phoenix air? Now that the rains are over (at least for a while), it’s a perfect time to take the dog for a walk at night. As it gets cooler, though, it also is getting darker earlier. How do you keep the dog safe when you are walking at night?

And not to sound too grandmotherly but… traffic in my area has really picked up. I live in central Phoenix where there is about a jillion condos being built, creating more traffic all the time. And some of our new neighbors drive really fast. (Wow, that was the most grandmotherly paragraph I have ever written!)

Equipment for a safe walk

So being the loving pet person that I am, I decided I am going to be a little safer when it comes to walking the dog. I always have her on a leash – she’s a Beagle, for goodness sake!

I bought this leash because it was supposed to be reflective. But really, I am not sure how you are supposed to check there in the store. But I suppose you could go shopping at night, buy the “reflective’’  item, take it to a dark corner of the parking lot and see how truly glow-in-the-dark it really is. But I didn’t. And now I have a leash that is so-so when it comes to being seen at night. I do like the leash, though, it is nice and study but it seems to blend in with the night as much as the last one did.

I’m not really crazy about having a light attached to the dog because I worry that it will bother her eyes.

As it gets cooler, I guess I can start wearing a neon-colored light jacket to wear while I walk the dog. The neighbors, the ones who are driving slowly enough, will appreciate me wearing something other than grungy grey! Or  I could outline the dog’s bones in nontoxic glow-in-the-dark paint and get a jump on Halloween.

I’m still on the hunt for a leash that is more reflective and will keep you updated on that. But in the meantime, here are some other things to keep in mind as you and Poochie take a stroll:

  • Walk against traffic so you can see what’s coming.
  • Ditch the headphones when walking your dog at night. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you!
  • Stay on the sidewalk along well-lit roads, and avoid shortcuts through dark lots or alleyways.
  • Take the cellphone with you: You never know when you will need to call home and the built-in flashlight can be used as a backup light source.

Let’s be careful out there!

Signed, Grandma

 

Keeping the new car clean

how to keep car clean with dog
Well, I never thought it would happen – I got a new-to-me car! And now the big question: How do I keep it clean and still have my best friend (aka the dog) ride shotgun with me?

First, a confession:

Pigpen in the car

When it comes to the car, I am a slob of the highest order. There’s hiking gear, a tennis bag and swimming stuff in the trunk. I believe in recycling, so there are plastic bags that need to go back to the grocery store. There’s aluminum cans for the lady in the neighborhood who collects them. And I eat in the car – and the dog has loved that because there is always a crumb or chunk of something left behind for her to graze on. And there’s coffee stains and God-knows-what stains. It’s disgusting.

And there’s dog hair. So much dog hair. Literally a forest of little, spiky white short dog hairs are stuck in the fabric car seats and won’t let go.

It was permanently filthy but what the heck, it ran. Until one day it didn’t.

But no more

And enter the new car.

And by the power of Armor-all, I will keep this one clean.

Tomorrow is a test day, I’m taking Artie to the vet for some routine maintenance (for her, not the car). I haven’t had time to get all the seat covers and floor mats that I have been fantasizing about. So I am going to rig a bed- sheet-and bungee-cord contraption to fit over the seat and floor until I can get the slipcovers of my dreams.

(The dog riding shotgun is not the best possible thing – instead she should be crated in the back or strapped in on the backseat. But her in the passenger seat next to me makes me a more focused driver — that’s my rationalization and I’m sticking to it)

Tips on keeping car clean with a dog

In writing the latest version of Happy Dog Phoenix, I interviewed a Sedona auto detailer about how to get dog hair out of the car. He suggested some great tips (the book is available in late October).

But I am looking for ways to prevent the dog hair from even coming in and taking hold – and the new car even shows the hair I bring in by the seat of my pants. Who knew a human being could be a dog-hair carrier!

There are some tips I could find about preventing dog hair in the car:

  • Brush the dog before the trip
  • Brush yourself off — I now carry around a lint roller so much it feels like my second hand!
  • Choose easy-to-wipe leather seats
  • Contain the dog to one spot in the vehicle.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

Oh, no eating in the new car!

Winner — Dog Days Summer Challenge

Ta-dah!

The first-ever Happy Dog Phoenix Summer Challenge has a winner: Gail Horton.

As you may remember, the objective of the challenge was to submit up to seven suggestions on how to keep your dog cool during the summer. Gail came out of the gate strong on this one, suggesting six keep-cool ideas in just one day – including playing “Hide the Kibble’’ and “Hide and Seek’’

And she had the photos to back up her ideas.
dogs kayaking in phoenix summer

How we selected a Dog Days Summertime Challenge

But there was an element of luck in this as well. I tallied up the names of everyone who had submitted a summer cool-down idea. Way more than 30 suggestions – so an idea a day for a month! Sprinklers, stand-up paddling, shopping, mobile gyms, frozen treats and some serious napping were among the ideas. And then I wrote out each submission on a slip of paper and then randomly smeared one slip with peanut butter and then threw the slips in the air and let Artie the dog find the peanut-butter slip.

Sounds like work but it was kind of fun on a still-hot Sunday afternoon.

So, we have our winner and Gail will be getting a gift card for $120 that she can use at a local store.

Keeping cool in the summer

I loved seeing your photos and hearing your ideas of keeping the dog cool and happy during what I think was a pretty bad summer. There were those couple stinkin’ hot days in July and while I love the rain, this year’s humidity (and the high temps that came with it) really took it out of me. That’s why I loved the contest so – it felt like we were all in this together, dealing with the heat and taking care of our dogs together — it was a great feeling of camaraderie!

So, stay tuned – our Halloween costume challenge will be here before we know it! Or if you have any other contest ideas — please let me know.

And stay cool everyone!

 

What’s New with the Dog Days of Summer Challenge

how dogs keep cool in Phoenix summer
So, we are on Day 15 of our Dog Days of Summer Challenge, and I got to say that you guys haven’t disappointed one bit. You’ve made such creative ways to keep your dogs cool in this heat. Be proud of yourselves!

From “redneck” AC units to dogs on slides to dogs kayaking, you all have certainly come up with great, thoughtful ideas on how your dog can deal with Phoenix summers.

Keepin’ cool in Phoenix heat

We all know that dogs are vulnerable to the heat and I’m sure, like me, you get upset when you see a dog being walked during the hottest part of the day or people doing other thoughtless things with their dog when it is so damned hot outside.

That’s why it was just so wonderful to see all your photos and suggestions. Even when it was freakin’ 118 out there, all of you kept a cool head and thought of the dog first. Way to go!

Summer contest update

There’s still 15 days to go for the contest. Remember you can enter seven times. So as you think of things, just post them on Facebook for everyone to see. Here are the other official rules and ways you can win up to $120. Stay cool everyone!

 

Five Ways for Photo Fun with the Dog

Here’s a great indoor activity to do with the dog when it is so hot outside: photo shoot! And with a lot of great new apps, you don’t have to bother the dog with a lot of different attempts at being creative. She can resume her position guarding her spot on the sofa and you can create some different looks just by fiddling a little bit with the phone.

If you want some great tips on how to photograph your dog

So cuddle up with the dog, break out your phone and have some chill time as you two avoid the heat and turn her into a little star:

Barkcam

There’s an app – of course, there is – for sounds that will get your dog’s attention so that she looks at the camera. I tried Barkcam and it worked fine but frankly, I can get her attention pretty well as it as and I am a little worried about having the high-pitched sound going off and annoying the crap out of her if I mistakenly use the app.

Woofie

Again a nifty little way to get your dog’s attention as you try to take a photo of her. Woofie is a pet-treat dispenser that clips onto your phone/camera.

My Talking Pet

My Talking Pet costs $4.99 for my Iphone and I think it is totally worth it to make the dog talk. You can have the dog sound husky-like, ala Barry White or you can have her sound high-pitched like Mickey Mouse. Or add sunglasses, sombrero or text to the video. So much fun!

Christmas in July

It’s not too early to start thinking about the holidays. Either the cards you want to send out or the personalized gifts that you would like to give this season. Set up that photo studio and get this task done! Looking for inspiration?

Stamps or shoesfun with dog photos

And what to put on those cards that you send out five months from now? Dog stamps! Put her photo out there so that everyone from the mail carrier to Aunt Sue sees her lovely mug. Don’t use stamps anymore? How about shoes? You can make flip flops with your dog’s photo.

 

 

 

 

HDP’s 30 Dog Days Summer Challenge

keep your dog cool this Phoenix summer

Right now we are in beginning stages of Happy Dog Phoenix’s 30 Dog Days Summer Challenge, in which HDP posts for 30 consecutive days tips, recommendations, solutions of what to do with the dog in the Phoenix summertime.

It seems about the right time of summer to make this challenge. The initial excitement of bathing suits, swimming pools and BBQs has evaporated. The monsoons look like they may be taking a break and that leaves only, hot, hot days until say, October.

October seems very far away and that leaves us with the rest of July, a possibly brutal August and a so-so September — so let’s play a game, shall we?

The rules/rewards

We are posting a tip, recommendation, suggestion every day on our Facebook page and our new(ish) Instagram page for 30 days. Go ahead and post your own suggestion (and we love seeing your dog’s photo!). Each person is allowed seven suggestions. With each suggestion that you make, your name is entered into a drawing for a prize. If that suggestion has already been made, your name is not entered. Don’t despair – just come up with another suggestion.

We are going to be pretty generous about possible duplications – so just keep entering and know that you will have at the most seven chances.

What do I win?

A $100 gift card to a pet-supply place. It can be a gift card to a chain like Target or PetSmart, etc.

win $120 by telling us how keep a dog happy in phoenix summer

Or Behind Door #2, if you choose an independent pet-supply store like Noble Beast or Bonnie’s Barkery or The Stock Shop, we will make it for $120.

Deadline

Aug. 15 and we promise to get results to you as soon as possible, as long as the household AC holds up.

Happy Summer everyone!

Why write a book? Why buy a book?

Sometimes, I get asked how Happy Dog Phoenix came to be.

And now because we are announcing that we are working with the Arizona Animal Welfare League, I thought it would be a good time to share why I do what I do.HoneyBun, original Happy Dog Phoeix

And plus it’s a rare, cloudy day in Phoenix and that always puts people in the mood to read a good dog story.

Do you have your own story of how a dog changed your life or at least improved the heck out of it? We would love to hear about it.

Baseball and your dog

baseball at downtown Phoenix ballpark
You know what is great? It’s great when your baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, is on a scorching hot streak? And they beat the Dodgers repeatedly. And that you can take your dog to a game in downtown Phoenix.

That’s great. Really, really great.

(Of course, how long the Diamondbacks are in downtown Phoenix remains to be seen since there are a lot of rumors that they will be headed to north Scottsdale sooner or later)

Head to the ballgame with your dog

But for right now, you can hope on the Light Rail and head down to the ballpark with your pooch.

The Diamondbacks were the first baseball team in the country to have a dog-friendly section at the ballpark. Other teams, including the Dbacks, had had bring-your-dog-to-the-game days but our team was the first to put in a special section for our four-legged friends.

Two baseball-viewing options

So here’s the rundown, baseball and dogwise:

On Sunday, you can go to  “Bark at the Park” versus the Houston Astros, with a pre-game Puppy Parade on the warning track at Chase Field.  Bring your dog and sit in the stands.

And on 17 other Sunday and Monday home games, there is “Dog Days of Summer”. Dogs and their peeps have their own dedicated seating and concessions area, PetSmart Patio, and their own indoor/outdoor dog park. There also will be onsite adoptions of dogs by leading area animal-rescue groups.

Dog Days of Summer ticket packages start at $160 and include a semi-private space with all the necessities for four people and one dog. Each table comes with access to All-You-Can-Eat hot dogs, soda, water, popcorn, peanuts, and chips. Fans must purchase entire table.

For dogs, hanging out on the patio means they aren’t confined to a seat and can roam around the suite. Another big thrill for the dog: dog-friendly ice cream with chicken, bacon, turkey or sweet potato toppings.

Be sure to head to the Chase Field dog park so Fido can burn off some of that sugar-induced energy before the trip back home.

But wait, there’s more

For those of you who love road trips with the dog, just know that the San Diego Padres are having their own “Dog Days of Summer” event Tuesday, June 19. Info is available on the Padres’ website.

Dogs and Spring Training

dog at spring training game
Want to bring your dog with you as you enjoy a day of sun, suds and spring training? Well, sad to say Cactus League ballparks aren’t as welcoming to the four-legged dogs as they are to the meat-byproduct ones.

Only one of the ten Cactus League Ballparks has a dog-day special in 2018. And that’s Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. Interestingly, the Padres play in Petco Park at home –and they were the first team in baseball to have bring-your-dog-to-the-game days.

Peoria Sports Complex more than makes up for the dearth of other Cactus League teams because it has not one – but four PawParty Days’’ on March 1, 6, 15 and 23!

On these days, you can sit on the lawn and watch a game with your favorite canine buddy. It’s up to you,though, to figure how much of your hot dogs you want to share with The Dog.

Take your dog to spring training

To get your dog into the game, purchase a “dog-admission ticket” at the Ticket Office Window.

All of the PawParty Days’ proceeds will go to the Arizona Humane Society.

The scoop on Peoria stadium

Of all of the stadiums, Peoria has the most promotions this season, including  honoring nurses, teachers and veterans.

That’s great because other stadiums just gladly take your money and then turn around charge you a bundle for beer and a hot dog. Do I sound bitter? Sorry. I just remember the old days when going to a spring-training game was a spur-of-the-moment decision, made mostly because you had nothing better to do that particular afternoon. It was more of a lark and didn’t involve so much logistics. Or parking. Or planning. Or money.

But enough nostaligia for the old days! If you are interested in making it a day with dog, may we suggest the ultra-friendly Salty Senorita, which is super dog friendly and close to the ballpark.

And play ball!