Thanksgiving Feast the Ridogulous Way

The dogs waiting for turkey dinner.

Dean, Dolcezza, Lola, Smokey, and Danner are waiting to say the blessing and dive into that turkey dinner!

The Darby dogs have so much to be thankful for. I have no doubt that they realize just how blessed they are. Many of them remember their time on the streets and appreciate every meal in a special way. Others who never experienced being homeless see the rescue dogs that come to our house and understand how lucky they are. We work hard every day to try to make the lives of homeless dogs just a little bit better. Dogs love us, work hard for us, and give us unconditional love. They deserve the same from us.

I’m constantly amazed at the rescue dogs that have been abused physically or by neglect. They’re so quick to forgive humans. Even though sometimes it takes them awhile to be comfortable and trust us completely, they still appreciate everything we do for them and show their gratitude with every tail wag or lick.

Now to try and express how thankful I am for my dogs. This might be impossible to put into words. Actually, it is. I cannot even begin to imagine my life without animals. They give me purpose. They are my purpose. A very special friend of mine sent me some Bible verses after I lost Sloane. She included these:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.
I Corinthians 12: 7

God put each of us here for a reason, and my reasons have four legs. I haven’t yet figured out the whole story. I don’t know what His long-term plan is for me, and sometimes I question whether I’m following the right path. It’s hard to just close your eyes and believe sometimes, but guess what…my dogs are the very ones that remind me that He’s with me all the time, and I can put all my trust in Him. Without them, I would be nothing. I would have no reason to wake up in the morning. I would have no purpose. And I would have never invented my new pooper scooper blower (and I’m sure that’s going to be a million dollar idea soon)!!!

With each new furry family member that I find, my heart is filled more and more with pure love. And with the loss of each one, I endure extreme pain. But I would never take back the time I had with each of them. They each teach me something new and amazing, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

So today, I’m beyond thankful for my amazing family (which is comprised entirely of animal lovers), so grateful for my friends who understand my love for animals (even though they might not be quite as extreme in their love of animals as me), and I’m forever indebted to the animals that give me purpose.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Bringing Your Puppy Home, Part Two

When you decide to bring a new puppy into your home, one of the first things you should consider is the must-have gear to care for a puppy. Here’s a quick list of necessities with some details about each to get you started.

First and foremost, your new puppy will definitely want to eat! Food and water bowls are essential. There are several options out there, and to help you decide which is best for your new family member here are a few facts about each.


  • Stainless steel is a non-porous material and bacteria can’t seep into the surface, making it an ideal choice for food bowls. They may not come in a wide range of colors, but they are quick and easy to clean. Stainless steel also resists rust and other stains, making it a great choice for long lasting dog bowls. Toss them in the dishwasher for a quick clean, or if needed you can use bleach and other disinfectants without damaging the bowl.
  • Ceramic bowls are heavy and make a great choice for dogs that like to tip over bowls, scoot them around on the floor, or pick them up and parade around the house. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes but, without a proper glaze on the bowl, ceramic can harbor bacteria and is not easily cleaned. Be sure to look for a bowl labeled food safe and lead free. If your ceramic bowl gets cracked, go ahead and toss it and purchase a new one. Bacteria will find it’s way into the scratches and grow.
  • Plastic bowls aren’t the best choice for your new family member. Plastic is not a very durable material and can scratch or be chewed easily. Bacteria will hide in those scratches and thrive. They are the cheapest option, but you’ve already committed to the best care for your new puppy, so shell out a few more dollars for a better food and water bowl.

Puppy food is a vital part of this equation. Without a good well-balanced food formulated for your puppy’s needs, they can’t grow up to fulfill their greatest potential. If you have a large breed puppy you will want to seek out a food specifically formulated for large breed pups. These foods are created with the bones, muscles, and fast growing tendencies of these dogs in mind. The same principle applies to smaller breeds.

When purchasing puppy food be sure to choose one with DHA (Docosahexaenioc acid). DHA is a natural omega-3 fatty acid that is essential brain development and function in young mammals. The primary source of DHA for puppies is originally the mother, but just like human babies, your puppy’s brain continues to develop after birth. This makes DHA essential to your new puppy’s diet. The benefits are endless and studies have proven the importance of DHA for trainability of puppies. You can read more about the studies conducted by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and The Iams Company by following the links below.

The next essential item your puppy needs is a crate. He will spend a good amount of time in his new “den” as puppies need their sleep and a safe refuge from the chaos of everyday life. Appropriate size crate is a must. To find the right size here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Choose a crate that is just large enough that your puppy can stand up and turn around. One main purpose of the crate is house training and the size is important because of the dog’s natural instinct not to soil his den. If the den is too large, they might eliminate in one area, and sleep in another. To do away with the need to purchase several crates as your dog grows, companies have developed crates that you can purchase to fit the adult size of your dog, and block the excess area with a divider. These are great options, just remember to block off an area just large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around.
Dean helps show an example of an appropriately sized crate.

Dean helps show an example of an appropriately sized crate.

  • When you go shopping for a crate you will see several options including plastic, metal, and the collapsible fabric kennels. Keep in mind that the primary use of the crate at this time will be for house training, so you can rule out the fabric crates. The wire metal crates are a good option to have in a busy area of your home because the dog can be a part of their surroundings. A crate is also a place of refuge to a puppy, a safe haven, and a place to “get away from it all” when they need some alone time. Plastic crates are great for this purpose. Puppies will learn to feel secure and comforted while in their new “den.” Of course, the first couple of nights your puppy will cry in their crates. This is not because they don’t like their new dens; it’s because this is likely the first time they have been isolated from their mom and litter mates. It’s a great idea to place their crates in your bedroom so they feel like a part of their new family.
Danner doesn't mind being the guinea pig in the example of an incorrectly sized crate! :)

Danner doesn’t mind being the guinea pig in the example of an incorrectly sized crate! 🙂

Although your puppy might not wear a collar full-time, it’s a great idea to have a collar and leash for safety. If you are taking your puppy out to the bathroom in a public area you will want a way to keep him safely near you. Be sure to select a collar that isn’t too heavy for him. One of my favorites is a soft nylon collar. They come in a ton of colors and are easy to clean should your puppy decide to play in a mud puddle!

The final and most important essential you will need when welcoming your new puppy into your home is a trusted veterinarian. You are likely bringing your puppy home at seven or eight weeks of age, so they have already had their first round of vaccinations. Each veterinarian might have a slightly different protocol regarding the timing of vaccinations, but most of the time your puppy’s next round will be at nine weeks of age, then 12 weeks, and the final round at 16 weeks.

There’s a very good reason for putting your puppy through so many rounds of shots. Puppies are born with natural immunities and continue to receive antibodies from their mother’s milk. This begins to diminish between five and eight weeks of age and continues to decline until 12 to 16 weeks of age. If your puppy still has a significant level of maternal antibodies when vaccinated, it won’t be effective. As the natural immunity dissipates, vaccinations begin to trigger the immune system to produce it’s own antibodies.

Go ahead and schedule an appointment for your new family member before picking him up. Be sure to get the vet records for your pup from the breeder or rescue organization and take them to your appointment with you. Together with your veterinarian you can create a plan to ensure your puppy gets the care he needs through vaccinations, micro chipping, and heartworm and flea and tick preventatives.

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Welcoming With Open Paws

Bringing Your Puppy Home, Part One

Bringing home a new, furry family member is an exciting occasion, but you must remember a few essentials to make the transition for your puppy the best it can be. Your first concern when bringing home a new puppy should be the safety and well being of your new family member. You have to ensure you can meet all the needs of a young pup. A few essentials include an appropriately sized crate, a well balanced and nutritious puppy food, a collar and leash, food and water bowls, and a trusted veterinarian.

You have your supplies and your new puppy. Now what?

Arriving home is exciting and you want to jump straight in and let your new pup meet everyone and every pet at your house, but suppress that desire. Successful introductions are critical to how your puppy will integrate into the current pack.

When two-legged family members meet the puppy for the first time, have them squat down, leaning slightly backward with their arms open; then they can call the puppy to them with a soft and excited voice. Everything with your puppy should be fun and exhilarating. Never crouch over a puppy or stare directly into their eyes. If a puppy is nervous about the introduction, don’t rush them. Sit on the floor and wait for the puppy to decide to come to you. When they do, reward them gently and enthusiastically with lots of “good puppy!” and petting.

When meeting a new puppy, sit on the floor with your arms open. This is a very inviting posture to the puppy. Avoid leaning forward, as well as reaching for the puppy.

Introducing four-legged family members should be done, initially, on unfamiliar ground. Choose a neighbor’s yard, or a walk around the block. This allows them a chance to meet in a small way, and exert some energy before going back home and getting to know each other even better. Don’t walk into your house and place the puppy on the ground and expect your adult dogs to accept him with open paws. One thing is for sure, the adult dog won’t be elated at the arrival of your new family member. Over time, they can learn to be great friends, but be patient and respect the rights of your older dogs. You are in charge of the introductions. Set both dogs up for success and be aware of whether or not anyone is uncomfortable at any time and be ready to remove that dog from the situation.

Walking your new puppy with your adult dog at the initial introduction is a great way to allow them to meet while enjoying a walk and burning some energy.

Dogs have a language of their own and adult dogs are masters of communication. Puppies, on the other hand, haven’t yet learned the rules. Heck, they don’t even know rules exist. Interactions between an adult dog and a young puppy are invaluable when it comes to teaching the rules. All older dogs have limits, and puppies have to learn to respect them. Until everyone learns to respect each other you are in charge of watching, and interpreting, the exchanges and stopping any inappropriate behavior before it escalates. Once you have walked both dogs, head home and first remove all toys, food bowls, bones, etc. that your adult dog might feel are “theirs.” Always supervise any playtime between your older dog and your new puppy. Provide a place to escape such as a crate or access to a bedroom for your older dog should they decide they don’t want to play anymore. If they retreat to such an area, respect that and allow them some alone time. Do your research on canine communication. Don’t punish an adult dog for growling at a puppy. Observe and be ready to intervene, but allow the exchange to happen. Your adult dog is only explaining the rules to the new little guy. After a few weeks your dogs should be getting to know each other well and forming a lasting bond.

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