Thanks for the Gotcha Day

artie gotcha day
Thanksgiving ranks up there with Halloween and Easter as a terrific holiday. And after the kindness of Arizona Beagle Rescue, it’s a little more special because it’s also Artie’s Gotcha Day.

Four years ago, I had just gotten over the heartbreak of losing a dog to a long illness when I contacted Arizona Beagle Rescue looking for another dog. I grieved the loss of HoneyBun and wasn’t sure I was ready for another dog.

“You know, we have a dog who is being fostered and the volunteers need to go to back East for Thanksgiving,’’ they told me. “Why don’t you just take this dog until they get back?”

Of course, we all knew what was going on – if I loved the dog (which they knew I would), then she would stay at my house for good.

Not exactly love at first sight

We all make snap judgments and the first time I met Artie, I wasn’t so sure she was the dog for me.

She slobbered so much and shed so much – so much dog hair coming off of one dog! Her tongue hung out because of a misshapen jaw.

She was nervous and understandably so. She had been at the Maricopa County pound in Tempe, which is such a heartbreaking place – it is so loud, so Spartan and so sad. My eyes tear up just thinking about how overwhelmed Artie must have been there with all of that noise and cold, concrete floors.

And she had problems with her teeth, so she must have been in pain as well. Arizona Beagle Rescue volunteers found her, paid for her dental bills and placed her with some terrific foster parents.

You know if I had just met her, I wouldn’t have necessarily picked her as the dog to take home.

Just another reason why I am thankful for Arizona Beagle Rescue: I trusted them and they led me to her.

What made for a great Gotcha Day

Despite what she had been through, Artie effortlessly rode in the car. She just sat in her seat and looked out the window with a thoughtful politeness about her.

We got home and she explored as we settled in. I quickly learned that she knew all about doggie doors and how to claim her spot on the sofa. On the very first night, she hopped into bed with me. The next morning, worried that she may have to pee, I tried to shake her loose from her position on the comforter. She just looked at me. Her eyes seemed to say “Woman, please. I’m in a good spot here and I’m not budging.’’

artie belly rubI fixed her green beans so she keep on her diet.

And I could tell she liked the creature comforts of my house but I just wasn’t sure….. Then while I was working on my laptop, she cantered over, plopped down and proceeded to roll on her back, wiggling on the hardwood floors. With her goofy tongue hanging out, she looked like she was smiling and emitting joy.

I know, I know, a dog lying down exposing his belly is a sign of submission. But I could tell she had a sparkle in her eye and that at that moment, she was happy. And she was home.

And then it dawned on me — here I thought I was choosing a dog but in reality, she had picked me. She’s the one who “got me.’’

Happy Gotcha Day to everyone who has ever helped a dog find a forever home. We are thankful to you all!






TV dog

artie on Ch. 12 AZ Midday show
So, Channel 12 called and invited me to be on their AZ Midday Show to talk about where to take the dog in Phoenix. “Could I bring Artie the Beagle?’’, I asked. “Bring her on down,’’ they said.

Thank goodness that I did.

Look — we are on TV! Video

The extraordinarily friendly Midday staff put us in front of a bar and had little Artie sit on top of a bar stool. “How long while she actually sit there?.’’ I wondered.

She was perfect. During the interview on dog-friendly Phoenix, she looked adoringly at me and thoughtfully at the hosts, Destry Jetton and Jan D’Atri.

And she let me pet her to death as I got through the interview. Sweaty palms and all.

Whew. It was over. Artie was down off the stool and nosing around the set, when I heard a yell across the area. “Artie!’’. It was Melissa Gable, Maricopa County’s crack PIO for Animal Care and Control.

Artie is famous (infamous?)

How does Melissa Gable know my dog?

Turns out Melissa knew Artie from the pound. I adopted Artie from Arizona Beagle Rescue but apparently before that, she was at the county pound. Melissa saw her there and had her on television in hopes that someone would adopt her. She even had a glam photo of made of her. Who knew? Artie had some showbiz experience.

Apparently, Artie’s TV debut didn’t pan out so well. And I ended up with her. To this day, I am still amazed that someone as loyal and loving as Artie was ditched at the pound. Some people.

So, the morale of the story? You never know what kind of dog you find at rescues. One may just be a born TV star.

Artie on TV Channel 12

Election cure?

elections and dogs tshirt

t-shirt available here

Can a dog help you deal with this year’s beyond-insane election?

This weekend I reached an end point with politics. Of course, I will vote. I picked my presidential candidate  awhile ago and shared my decision with anyone who asked. My friends, family and colleagues have already decided as well. And there’s no budging them either way.

So instead of watching last night’s “presidential” Town Hall, I walked the dog. I recommend it heartily. It provided the mental-health break I needed and it gave me a chance to avoid any more political discussions.

Don’t have a dog? Or have one that is not that jazzed about a stroll? How about volunteering to walk one?

It may be a little naïve, but what would happen if instead of reading one more political (and perhaps totally inaccurate) Facebook posting or listening to one more infuriating video clip, we all just did something for someone else. Helping a dog seems like a good starting point. So, instead of reading the Town Hall reviews, I just went ahead and saved you the time of Googling to find out which animal shelters need volunteers.

Here’s a lovely list of metro Phoenix shelters in need of someone to walk a dog or socialize with animals:


Election three weeks away

I’m not advocating burying your head in the sand and ignoring all election-related news. What I am suggesting is that if you are feeling overwrought about it all, just take an hour out of your day and step away from the computers and phones. The news will be waiting for you when you get back and in the meantime, you have made a puppy pretty happy.

The dog, by the way, seconds the motion.






Nix on Ticks


Happy Dog Phoenix is excited to have Monica Gomez be today’s guest blogger:

A healthy dog is a happy dog, but ticks living in the Arizona outdoors threaten the safety of your pet. Ticks are a major problem because they carry diseases and are difficult to detect. A dog that brings home ticks can spread Lyme disease, which affects a quarter of a million Americans per year.

The best way to prevent your dog from gathering ticks is to understand how these nasty pests find a new home. This guide by Carrington College can help you protect your dog by providing valuable information on spotting and eliminating ticks. If you follow these tips, chances that you will have to take your pooch to the vet this summer will be low.





Death by blankie?

4250877391_ab139f5749_bHow do dogs sleep under the covers and not suffocate?

This question comes to us from a Very Important Five Year Old and we needed to get on it pronto.

Also, since

Phoenix is experiencing its own version of Artic weather (32 degrees – how can we stand it?), dogs are now getting under the blankets with the rest of us.


So, now is a great time to discuss dogs’ enjoyment of tunneling under the bed covers. For some, it comes naturally. Dachshunds and terriers, bred to burrow underground to dislodge varmints, love crawling under the blankies. Huskies, who are genetically programmed to burrow because of true Artic temps, do it as well.

For the rest of the breeds, it comes from a desire to be back in the den, warm and safe from intruders. And it fits in nicely with their strategy for complete Bed Domination.

For most, sleeping under the covers isn’t a problem. They move so much during the night in their efforts to control the bed that they shift the covers and create fresh air supply. Being squished by others in the bed can be a greater hazard to smaller dogs than suffocation.

But people with brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs may want to discourage their pups from long periods of hibernation under the blankets, just to be safe.

All in all, canine death by blanket suffocation should not even be on your list of things to worry about. Just cozy up with your favorite hound and let sleeping dogs lie.

New Beagle

art 200
Meet the new Beagle (not really the) same as the old Beagle.

After being in not-so-terrific shape for a while, HoneyBun passed away in early November and it took me only a couple days to realize that the house (and me) needed a dog.

I called Arizona Beagle Rescue and they had Artie ready and willing to check out a prospective new home. I can’t stress enough how great it was to work with a rescue group to find a new dog.  These are kind-hearted people who are dedicated to finding good homes for their dogs. They are selective when it comes to making matches; they want a good fit for canine and human alike.

I told them what kind of beagle I was looking for: sweet, active yet mellow. And the New Beagle, Artie, fits that bill exactly. If only AZBR did human match-making! That’s how good they are at pairing up creatures.

After seven years with HoneyBun, I thought I knew what to expect with having a dog and especially having a beagle. Love of food? Check. Obsession to sniff? Check. Situational good hearing? Check.

But in some ways, Artie is very much different than HoneyBun. Returning to the same breed seems to me to be the best of both worlds: you are comforted by the familiarity of the breed’s tendencies and you are amazed at their individual quirks that we all, dog and human, alike have. Every day has certainly been a new day with Artie.

For all my friends who have lost a cherished pet and haven’t yet adopted – you know who you are — I hope this story helps nudge you a little bit to adopting that new dog. After all, our story has had a happy ending and yours can too.


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.

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.

Anthem Adopt-a-thon

Phoenix Animal Care Coalition 911 recently held an adopt-a-thon in Anthem. More than 130 animals found forever homes and everyone involved — people and dogs — had a blast.

Westminster Woes?

Uno, Westminster Best of Show 2008This is my most controversial blog entry yet, so here goes.

Last year about this time, I met a woman passionate about the welfare of dogs. To break the ice,
I asked her if she had watched the Westminster dog show (which this year starts Monday).

She gave me a hard look and said if that was what Happy Dog Phoenix was going to be about, then count her out.

She believes dog shows like Westminster and dog breeders help cause dog overpopulation and it is all just for the almighty dollar.

Her adamancy caught me off guard and has caused me to rethink my enjoyment of Westminster. Then came articles like “Can the Bulldog Be Saved?’’, a heart-breaking look at how the overbreeding of English bulldogs to get a certain “look’’ has caused many of them to have severe breathing problems. Those genetically manufactured short noses can cause them to suffer in the heat because they can’t cool down properly.

After reading that and other articles, does that mean I am going to turn off Westminster?

No. I think my friend, the New York Times writer and other thoughtful people have excellent points but I also believe there’s a place for a show that celebrates well-cared-for, well-exercised dogs and their fascinating history.

I think Westminster should focus more on dogs’ ability and overall looks, rather than specifics like how close their eyes are together or who their parents were.

Or perhaps Westminster judges could take into account a dog’s particular history as well as the breed’s history, like this rescued Weimaraner.

So yes, Monday, I am going to be turning into Westminster but I am going to thinking about how all dogs can be helped — not just the purebreds.

What do you think?