ballwalkpark's New Vaccine Policy

ballwalkpark is changing the vaccine protocol for clients. We no longer require annual vaccine certificates, and will gladly accept titer testing in it's place. Titer testing is recommended every 3 years. The only vaccines that are required are the 3 series of puppy shots and rabies every 3 years. 

We strongly encourage you to read through this blog post and inform yourself about vaccinations so you are able to make the best decisions for your pup. 

If you decide that you don't want to change anything, that is not a problem at all, but we don't want to be the reason you are vaccinating if you aren't comfortable with it. 

Why Do We Vaccinate Annually? 

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When it comes to immunity and duration of immunity for vaccines, there is one clear expert.  Dr. Ronald D. Schultz is one of perhaps three or four researchers doing challenge studies on veterinary vaccines – and he has been doing these studies for 40 years.  It is Dr. Schultz’s work that prompted the AAHA and AVMA to re-evaluate vaccine schedules.  In 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce warned vets in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) that ‘Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination’; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.’

‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information  as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’

“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.”  says Dr. Schultz.  “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”

He adds:  “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated. Annual vaccination for diseases caused by CDV, CPV2, FPLP and FeLV has not been shown to provide a level of immunity any different from the immunity in an animal vaccinated and immunized at an early age and challenged years later. We have found that annual revaccination with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity provides no demonstrable benefit.”


Distemper- 7 years by challenge/15 years by serology
Parvovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Adenovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 9 years by serology
Canine rabies – 3 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology

Effects of Annual Vaccination

When illness follows, it’s often long enough after vaccination that the event is forgotten or negated as being causative. Until the questions are directed to “when did this illness begin?” A British vet discovered, by asking this very question of his clients, that 75% of his respondents answered that their dogs started itching about a month after their vaccines.

Dr. Richard Pitcairn, the vet who taught many of us homeopathy, wrote about the relationship between vaccination and the chronic disease it induces here, in a paper presented at the AHVMA conference in 1993.

It’s a remarkable treatise on how dogs vaccinated against distemper or rabies often develop chronic symptoms of either or both diseases.

Here’s his chart showing the natural symptoms of canine distemper compared to what we commonly see as symptoms in chronically ill dogs.

Immunity is like being a virgin – you either are or you aren’t and once you change, there’s no changing back again.

Titer Testing Now Accepted In Place of Vaccine Certificate 

A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents)

REASONS FOR VACCINE TITER TESTING *

To determine that animal is protected (suggested by a positive test result)</span>

To identify a susceptible animal (suggested by a negative test result)

To determine whether an individual animal has responded to a vaccine

To determine whether an individual vaccine is effectively immunizing animals

* from: Schultz, Ford, Olsen, Scott. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert)

 

AVAILABLE VACCINE TITERS FOR DOGS

Distemper Virus

Parvovirus

Adenovirus 2 (hepatitis)

Bordetella

Panleukopenia

Corona Virus [not recommended]

Rabies Virus (RFFIT: non export)

 

How To Get Titer Testing Done

Your vet may offer titer testing, but in about 10 calls I made to local Seattle vets, it doesn't seem to be a routine practice. it is also pretty expensive at local vets. I recommend having your vet do a blood draw and then you send it off to HemoPet, which is run by Jean Dodds. You fill out this form, send in the blood, and wait for the results! 

With this information, you can make your own informed decisions on what vaccines your pup needs. As far as Rabies, you can have Dr. Dodds write a waiver of rabies booster, with justification by client veterinarian, with rabies antibody titer recorded, may be granted.

Hitting Too Close To Home

Bailey's cancer has opened my eyes to a ton of things regarding dog health and nutrition, and vaccinations are one of them. I had no idea how relevant this was to not only all of my clients dogs, and my dogs, but my dog's cancer too. 

Considering how much time I spend driving every day, I can't believe that I just discovered podcasts. One of the first ones I listened to on Animal Talk Naturally - it's called Vaccine Induced Disease with Dr. Patricia Jordan. You can listen to it here. I was so fascinated by this blog post that I set up a consultation with Dr. Jordan to discuss Bailey and her cancer.

If you have questions about vaccines, cancer, natural health, or nutrition, I highly recommend you contact her as well. She spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with me and send me 4 page Word document summarizing our talk with links to every source! 

Basically what I learned, was sarcomas (Bailey's cancer) are linked to vaccines almost 90% of the time. They are caused by heavy metal poisoning from the vaccines and just a total disruption to the body. She gave me some helpful tips for how to help detox Bailey, but the most important thing I took away from our convo was that I needed to spread the word to my clients. 

In Bailey's 9 years, she has received Rabies 3x, Distemper-Parvo 6x, Bordatella 4x and Lepto 3x.  That's 16 vaccinations in 9 years. And believe it or not, she is actually under vaccinated for a dog her age - blame that on me being a broke college kid for her younger years. 

Looking back at Bailey's vet records, I brought her into the vet 4 days after her last puppy shot series because she had been throwing up for 2 days. In the notes they commented on her recent vaccines and suggested possible vaccinosis (vaccine reactIon), but this was never mentioned to me. Had I known that she was sensitive to vaccines, and had I known there were alternatives, I could have made better choices for her going forward. 

Based on Dr. Jean Dodd's new vaccine protocol, which is the new standard for vaccines accepted by The Canadian and American Veterinary Associations, and all 27 vet colleges in North America, she should have Distemper-Parvo 2-3x, Rabies as a puppy then every 3 years after, and that's it. For Bailey's 9 years, on this new protocol, she would have been vaccinated 7-8 times, assuming she showed positive titers. 

After listening to Dr. Jordan's podcast, there are several clear links from vaccines to sarcomas, and there is no doubt that is what put Bailey on this path. Every dog is different, and hopefully most will handle these vaccinations better than my little girl.

Knowledge is power, and it is up to you to advocate for your pup. I hope this post will help you make better informed decisions about what's right for you and your pup. 

Sources:

What Everyone Needs To Know About Canine Vaccines - Dr. Ron Schultz

Dr. Jean Dodd's Vaccine Protocol 2013-2014

Cancer in our Pet Population: Why Is It On The Rise by Dr. Patricia Jordan

http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/why-vets-are-getting-away-with-murder/

http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/pet-vaccination-risks-and-benefits/

ballwalkpark's 4th anniversary!

This week marks ballwalkpark's 4th anniversary! On January 20th, 2010, I left my office desk for the last time and proudly displayed my ballwalkpark flier in the window as my "goodbye". On January 23rd, I woke up on a Monday morning, put on my yoga pants and rain boots and went out to pick up my first pack. Time flies when you're playing with puppies! 

(right) ballwalkpark's first pack - Teddy (in the way back), Bailey, Chinook, Buster and Fletcher. (bottom left) Baby Fletcher at 4mo old on his first sleepover with Bailey and I. (middle left) My last day at an office job - ballwalkpark flier in the window. (top left) My beloved lime green hunter boots - the original ballwalkpark signature. 

(right) ballwalkpark's first pack - Teddy (in the way back), Bailey, Chinook, Buster and Fletcher. (bottom left) Baby Fletcher at 4mo old on his first sleepover with Bailey and I. (middle left) My last day at an office job - ballwalkpark flier in the window. (top left) My beloved lime green hunter boots - the original ballwalkpark signature. 

Four years feels different than three for some reason. Maybe it is because the last time I did something consecutively for four years, and learned so much during that time, was when I went to college and got a degree. I feel like I have earned my doggie degree! I am by no means a master on the subject, we are talking a B.A. here, not a PhD, but wow have I learned a lot. And the best part is, I never stop wanting to learn about dogs. 

I want to thank all of my clients who have taken a chance on me and allowed me to learn from them and their pups. Each client, human and dog, teaches me something new about dogs, people, business and myself. I have been so fortunate to build a ballwalkpark family with such supportive and inspiring people. There have been many kinks to work out along the way, and it couldn't have been done without your patience, guidance and trust. 

A huge ginormous thanks to Nancy, Chris and Kendal for their help over the years. From the beginning of ballwalkpark I always swore I would never hire an employee because I didn't believe it would be possible to find someone who cared as much about the dogs, clients and business as I do. These guys couldn't have further proved me wrong. Not only have they been amazing employees, sincerely cared for and loved the dogs, they have patiently and gently taught me  how to be a boss, which I think will always be a work in progress ;) 

Words can't describe the happiness your pups have brought to my life over the last four years. Dog walking is a pretty isolated job, and your pups are some of my best friends. They give me a reason to laugh and smile every single day and a reason to love going to work. 

Clients, friends, family, dog walkers, facebook fans, thank you all for your support and for sharing this passion with me. I am one lucky girl. 

Housesitting

You know that sad look your pup gets when you pull out the suitcase? How about that excited dance they do when we pull up to take them to the park, but to their surprise, end up moving in for a few days.... Travel doesn't have to be bad news for your pup - Chris and I are both available for housesitting! Here are a few reasons why you want ballwalkpark to move in next time you head out of town:

We have a good time! 

We have a good time! 

Good for your pup:

  • Dogs are creatures of habit, they love routine. Staying in their home, with familiar sights, sounds and smells. Everyone likes the comfort of their own home, right?
  • Daily routine is uninterrupted - your pup will be going to the park, with the same pups and same people that he/she is used to. We do our best to keep the routine at home as similar to yours as possible with feeding and walk times.  
  • Exposure to disease and stressful situations are minimized. Going somewhere with a number of new dogs is fun at first, but it can become very stressful, especially for longer stays.  
  • Your pup will be smothered with love and attention and will have our full attention. We have so much fun with the pups at the park, but getting to know them in their home environment and being able to cuddle with them on the couch is really a treat for us!  
  • Extra:  I have found that over the years, the dogs that I housesit for behave entirely different around me afterwards. Spending time one on one, outside of the park environment, allows for a completely different kind of bond that makes training and working with your pup on a daily basis much more effective, which benefits everyone!  

Vacation should be relaxing for everyone!  

Vacation should be relaxing for everyone!  

Good for you: 

  • You don't have to worry about letting us know about your dogs little quirks and things that may come up during your trip - we already know your pup!  
  • Your home will be lived in and will deter any crime while you are gone. We bring in the mail, alternate lights, water plants, etc.  
  • Piece of mind knowing that your pup is in the hands of someone who loves them, knows them, and is going to provide plenty of pics while you're gone. (Confession: Michael and I have been known to request FaceTime sessions with our pups while we're gone....) 
  • You don't have to ask friends or family who may or may be unwilling or unprepared to properly care for your pup. Plus, you know that feeling when you ask someone for a favor then don't feel like you can really ask for what you want (i.e. FaceTime....)? This is our job, we love it and we are more than happy to do it! 
  • You can count on us. We are experienced professionals, certified in First Aid and CPR, and throughout our term of service, you have come to rely on and trust us with your pup already. 
  • Extra: I am a clean freak and genuinely enjoy spending the last day of my visit cleaning your house.... and I actually get excited about your cleaning products... Wouldn't expect that from a dog walker, huh?  

Details: 

  • Housesitting is available for current ballwalkpark clients only 
  • At this time, boarding is not available (but let me know of any Queen Anne rentals - we are in the market again!) 
  • Rate is $75/night (24 hour period)  - additional pets and/or medications may be extra
  • Non-refundable deposit of 25% is due at time of booking 
  • We do not job share (i.e. we do a couple days and your friend does the other) - our insurance company won't allow it due to liability.  
  • Holiday rates apply at an additional 100% for New Years Eve, New Years Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, an additional 50% for Memorial Day weekend (Fri-Mon), 4th of July, Labor Day Weekend (Fri-Mon), Thanksgiving (Th, F) 

 

We have dates on the books as far out as March right now, so if you have a trip coming up, let us know so we can get it on the books and one less thing for you to worry about as your trip approaches!   

 

Posted on October 31, 2013 and filed under Services.

Giardia: The Who, What, When, Why and How

 

As the weather changes and rain is in the forecast, puddles will be forming and that means an increased risk of Giardia. I've provided some info to give you a quick summary, but please always refer to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Ballwalkpark Clients: To help keep your pup and minimize the risk of spreading the disease, please err on the side of caution and keep your pup home from the dog park if you see any signs of diarrhea or vomiting, and take a stool sample into your vet. If your pup tests positive for giardia, we ask that you keep him/her home for the duration of treatment and get a follow up stool sample with clean results. Healthy pups are happy pups!

What: Giardia is a common intestinal parasite.

  • Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting
  • It is possible to be infected and not show symptoms, but be shedding Giardia into the environment.

Who: Humans, dogs and cats.

  • Risk of contracting Giardia from your dog is very small, humans are usually infected with a different type of Giardia.

When: Dogs of any age can contract Giardia

  • Puppies are more susceptible until they build up their immunity
  • Since Giardia passed through feces and puddles that have been contaminated with Giardia infected feces, Fall is a common time for Giardia since puddles are forming for the first time in months.

Where: Since Seattle has such a high population of dogs, especially on Queen Anne, my vet, Dr. Spencer at Queen Anne Animal Clinic, says that dogs can get Giardia anywhere from the sidewalk in front of their house to the dog park.

  • Being in contact with infected feces (poop) from another dog or cat
  • Rolling and playing in contaminated soil
  • Licking its body after contact with a contaminated surface (for example, a dirty litter box or dog cage or crate)
  • Drinking water from a contaminated creek, pond, or other body of water

How: Giardia is detected by submitting a stool sample to your vet. They can usually diagnose the same day.

  • Your pup will most likely be prescribed a medication by your vet - there are no over the counter remedies.
  • You must keep your pup away from other dogs until the medication is complete
  • A follow up stool sample is required to return to the dog park

Why: I'm not sure why your pup got Giardia, but here's what you can do to prevent:

  • Get a fecal float test done every 6 months (even if symptoms are not present)
  • Clean up after your pup right away, or at least daily if you have a yard
  • Wash water bowls with soap and water regularly
  • Wipe paws after walks so they can't lick them after
  • If your pup has any signs of diarrhea, PLEASE KEEP THEM HOME for at least 24 hours to prevent spreading infection to other dogs and the park.

For more detailed info, see here.

In my experience, puppies dogs that are new to the area will often times come down with Giardia at least once, whether they visit dog parks or not. Once they are exposed to Seattle's soggy environment for a winter, they seem to build immunity and rarely become infected again. Every dog is different, of course. Some older dogs come down with it every year while some puppies grow up without every having it.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Pumpkin Carving Stencils for Dogs

This is a popular seasonal repost of our Lab-o-Lantern and French-o-Lantern, plus stencils for you to do your own!  

 

I am still impressed at my hidden artistic ability, despite the fact this was 2 years ago now! The stencil is the trick - just stick the the stencil and you will have your own pumpkin masterpiece of your pup.  

Bailey-Boo and Bam-O-Lantern 

Bailey-Boo and Bam-O-Lantern 

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The girls were kind enough to model with their pumpkin look-a-likes

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The highly googled French Bulldog Pumpkin stencil you are after (courtesy of the French Bulldog Rescue Network):

And links for a 20+ favorite breeds pumpkin stencils, thanks to Better Homes and Gardens. 

Have fun and Happy Halloween!!!  

Sage's right of passage

It's no secret that I love puppies, and one of my favorite parts about puppies is watching them grow and develop over the years. Being a part of a pack fulfills a much needed social aspect of our pups lives.

Just like high school kids, there are "cliques" within the pack. There is a general divide between the puppies and the older dogs that are too cool to put up with puppy play. One of the many milestones of a growing puppy is when an older dogs decides they are worthy of playing with. Welcome to the big kid clique, Sage.

When an older dog decides to play with a puppy, it is a reward for good behavior on the puppies part. It means that puppy has learned how to play properly, read body language and know how to play by the rules.

Gus, although still pretty much a puppy himself, wanted nothing to do with Sage when she first joined the pack. When she came charging past at turbo speed, he would tell her to slow down or get out of the way, but other than that, she was invisible to him. Yesterday, Gus engaged Sage for an awesome session of doodle dancing. I was so proud of little muppet (Sage) growing up so fast, and proud of Gus for being a patient and gentle teacher. I love nothing more than to see these relationships develop. GOOD PUPS!!!

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Maddy meets Miles | Vizsla Puppy Playdate

Vizslas are one of those breeds that favor their own over any other. They have a unique way of playing and interacting. Their body language is a whole different dialect from the rest, so when they find their own red dog kind, they get pretty excited.

At one point, I had 4 vizslas in my pack at once. Watching those pups play together was so much fun, it never got old for me. I hope to one day rebuild my Vizsla population so Miles and Maddy can experience the fun too.

Today, 12 week old Maddy got to meet Miles for the first time!

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Wet Weather Tips for Muddy Paws

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OllyDog Tilden Leash 

This may not bother everyone as much as it bothers a dog walker, but there is nothing worse than a soggy leash wrapped around your neck, or even your wrist for that matter. I love these Tilden Leashes by OllyDog because they are stink-proof, waterproof, and flexible enough to be comfortable around your wrist and in your hand. They come in fun colors and last for years! 

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These are probably my #1 must have item for dog owners in Seattle. If you're dog plays outside and gets wet and muddy, you need this collar! Have you ever noticed that sometimes the stinky dog actually isn't stinky, it's just the collar? Dublin collars solve that problem entirely! The collars are sturdy rubber, stink proof, waterproof, easy to wash and perfect for Seattle. In my opinion, every active outdoorsy dog needs one of these. I am so adamant about them, I actually bought them for all of my clients for holiday gifts one year.  

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The Soggy Doggy doormat may not seem like much, but it piqued my curiosity enough to try it out. I was really surprised with how well it worked! I got two of them for our boat. The dogs (and us) track in so much water from the deck into the cabin and before you know it, the whole floor is wet. These mats are so absorbent that with just one step on the mat, the paws come off onto the floor dry and clean. It's pretty incredible! Their a small (and I think local?) company, and definitely worth a try!  

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The Furminator FurDry Wrap Towel is kind of a joke and kind of genius. It's like a bathrobe for your dog. It solves the problem (mostly) of the wet dog jumping on the couch, or getting their bed all soggy. You just wrap them up and let them hang out. By the time you take it off, they are fluffy and dry! I think this would be especially useful for the Golden Retrievers and any other long haired dogs. Yes, they look pretty ridiculous, but a rubbing them with a towel can only get them so dry, believe me, I am a pro! 

While we all dread the wet weather and muddy paws, the dogs absolutely love getting muddy and being able to just be a dog! The trick is just keeping it out of our houses...  

A few tips (that your dogwalker will love you for) 

  • Leave towels by the door. We bring our own, but sometimes they get too soggy/dirty to make a difference, so a backup is always helpful 
  • Give your dog a space to dry off - whether it is a laundry room, a gated off kitchen, or a crate, it helps everyone to know they aren't going to jump straight onto your white couch.  
  • If you use a non-waterproof leash or collar (such as the Wonder Walker harnesses), throw them in the wash once a week to keep the stink away.  

Long Live The King

I consider myself to be pretty experienced with dogs, but there is one thing that many of you have experienced that I had not, and up until now, this has been my little secret. I have never had to put down a dog, until today.

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This morning my fiancé, Michael, had to make the heartbreaking decision to put down his 11 year old German Shepherd, Kaiser.

Kaiser lived up to his regal name. He was a 120 lb gentle giant, a true gentleman, and a truly amazing dog. Kaiser was a true alpha dog, he never challenged another dog, but he would not be challenged.

Michael got Kaiser when he was in college up in Bellingham. Kaiser was the ultimate companion dog, he went absolutely everywhere with Michael. As a pup roaming around Bellingham he was almost always off-leash and was by michael's side with just a little "click click" call that was his signal from Michael. Between surfing, camping, snowboarding, partying and more, Kaiser learned the back of Michael's truck was home and whenever he was with Michael, he was a happy guy.

Kaiser guards the truck on a camping trip to Neah Bay 

Kaiser guards the truck on a camping trip to Neah Bay 

I got my dog, Bailey, when I was the same age, and I think there is something so special about the bond that develops between a kid and their first dog at that age. In college and the ten years following, a whole lot changes! Different houses, different jobs, different friends, different significant others, different schedules, but the one thing that sticks with you through all of that is your dog. The dog learns that you are the one constant thing in their life, and they are the same to you. It would be impossible to raise a dog again the way that Kaiser was raised, and those experiences are what shaped him to be the wonderful companion that he was for those years.

While I only really knew Kaiser in the last half of his life, I love the almost fairytale stories Michael tells me of Kaiser's earlier days. I'd like to celebrate Kaiser today by sharing a couple of these stories with you. (Disclaimer: I can't attest to the accuracy of these stories, you know how storytelling goes, but this is how the stories were told to me and this is how I choose to remember them-
Although I'm interested to hear other versions ;)

Kaiser getting a nice cold bath in the summer heat 

Kaiser getting a nice cold bath in the summer heat 

Kaiser goes swimming

Michael just told me this one this morning and I couldn't stop laughing.
Up until a few years ago Michael's family lived down the street from View Ridge Pool, where the family were members and the kids grew up swimming. One hot summer day Kaiser decided to take himself on a walk down the street and ended up at the pool where he full speed launched himself into the pool to cool off. Scared screaming children ran out of the pool while the flopped his giant furry paws around and swam around. Apparently every time they got him out of the pool he would launch right back in. Eventually someone had to call Michael to come pick him up. I can just picture the big smile Kaiser had on his face when he finally walked back home.

Kaiser gets a baby sister

Michael loved having a Shepard by his side so much that he got a second one, for his sister, an all black female named Timber.

I forget all the details leading up to this, but basically they were approaching someone's dog who got off leash and was charging towards the sheperds to attack them. The frantic owner called ahead that his dog would bite, and Michael knew Kaiser would handle it. As the dog approached, Kaiser stopped and grabbed tiny Timber with his paw and shoved her underneath him to protect her. I think I stopped listening to the rest of the story because that was  so sweet.

In Kaiser's later years, he spent most of his time living with Michael's mom while his dad worked in Alaska during the week. He spent his days in a big yard with all the sticks and soccer balls a dog could dream of. He went on his evening neighborhood walk with his head held high, proud to be protecting his lady. He loved having a job and guarding the house. Which leads to...

Kaiser and Timber on Movie Night

One night while Michael's mom and sister were watching a movie at their old house (by the pool), they heard a noise. They called Michael and he said to "let the dogs out". The dogs were in their fenced in area right next to the house, but they had to go outside to get to the gate to let them out. As soon as they were out, Timber ran in the house and searched every room, every closet, every stairway in their 3 story home. Kaiser took off down the street and searched every yard and driveway, the police believe he actually chased the person away. For two dogs that have never had any formal obedience training, or even ones that had, those are incredible instincts.

The bond between Michael and Kaiser was incredible to watch, up until his last breath. The Kaiser stories will live on forever. He was that kind of dog. Michael's Facebook page is filled with comments of people he's known over the last decade, all sharing their stories of Kaiser. I don't think I've ever known a dog to have this many famous stories to tell.

If you've read this far, then it's time to put down your phone/iPad, shut down your computer, and go spend some time with your dog. And tell them that you love them every day.

We love you Kaiser

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Posted on August 22, 2013 .

San Francisco: Where dogs, kids and food coexist

Last weekend I flew down to San Francisco with my frenchie, Bambi, to visit a good friend and former client and her dog. The weekend involved a lot of dog activities, including a tour of Oliver's top parks and beaches. 

 

I was surprised to learn that it is customary to have your dog off leash in San Francisco. I don't know what the official leash laws are, but every where you go, dogs are off leash running in the parks. Dog owners or not, every one seems to be ok with this. I certainly saw a lot of happy dogs over the weekend! 

I immediately noticed a different attitude about dogs than I've experienced in Seattle. At the parks I visited, there were 5-10 dogs running off-leash at any given time, kids playing, and people picnicking all in the same area. I didn't see a single negative dog interaction, in fact, the dogs weren't even necessarily interested in each other, they were just happy doing their own thing. The school teachers and nanny's didn't seem to mind the dogs running around the kids, and the dogs didn't mind the kids. And most surprising,  the dogs didn't even hassle the people with food!  The dogs, the kids, and the parents (of 2 and 4 legged kids) seemed to just be so well socialization amongst one another that they were all just able to coexist without issue. 

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I know this can't be a generalization for all the dogs in the city of San Francisco, but the just the few situations I witnessed were so different than what I am used to in Seattle. It wasn't an issue if the dogs were on leash or off leash, near the play ground or not, they were just simply there, fitting in with the rest of the activity. 

I watched Bambi and Oliver play with dogs they normally wouldn't have shown any interest in. Oliver didn't mind the corgi harassing him for a ball for half an hour, in fact his tail was wagging the whole time. Bambi had a great wrestling match with a Chihuahua - I haven't seen her play like that since she was a puppy. 

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There was a noticeable difference in the attitude about dogs and the behavior of the dogs we encountered over the weekend. It makes me wonder how different Seattle would be without strict leash laws. Would our dogs become better socialized as a result? Would our dogs have better recall and better obedience since there were so many opportunities to practice as puppies? Would our kids grow up to be more comfortable around dogs? 

Bye Bye Buddy

Buddy and Stefan are all packed up and starting their cross country drive tomorrow. Buddy was only a part of the pack for a little over a year, but he certainly made an impact on me. I learn a little something from every dog I work with, sometimes about dogs, sometimes about myself, sometimes about life in general. Here is my story about Buddy... 

I knew Buddy years before he joined the pack - he and Stefan were always down at the water when I went down there with my rambunctious labs. I remember Buddy always being interested in my labs and wanting to play, which often times ended up in my dogs stealing his ball, which Stefan didn't seem to thrilled about. We would sometimes walk up the pathway at the same time, I remember talking to Buddy a lot, but never Stefan. He didn't seem terribly amused by the blonde girl and her big dogs. You can imagine my surprise when I got an email last year from Stefan saying that he and Buddy had moved back to Seattle (I still have no clue how he got my email), and that he remembered me from the park and wanted me to be Buddy's dog walker. I think that being hired by someone who sees you day in and day out with your pack at the park is the greatest compliment. I was thrilled to have Buddy join our pack.

From the very first day I took Buddy, I knew the he and Stefan were a unique pair. When we got to the park, Buddy wasn't the jolly ball happy lab that I remembered. He was very reserved, and very slow. He wasn't interested in interacting with any of the dogs, and although he stuck with the pack, he struggled to keep up. He was a wonderful pack dog, you couldn't ask for a sweeter temperament, something about his presence just made me happy. I realized I wasn't the only one who felt this way when Stefan texted me that day and said "how are you enjoying Buddy's personality?". I laughed at the question, although realizing that really was what was going on, the question wasn't how is he behaving, or how is he doing, but how am I enjoying his personality. Very much so. 

Over the next few weeks, Buddy got a bit more comfortable with the pack, but never quiet opened up. He hung behind a lot, largely due to food allergies which we luckily got all figured out, but he was also just kind of on his own agenda. This was not what I was used to. I got into dog walking because I have a turbo-charged lab (who is a year older than Buddy) who just won't stop and so I have devoted my life to getting her as tired as possible, as efficiently as possible. This has been essentially the basis of my business, and what I know is how to get high energy dogs to finally lay on the floor and calm down. My whole day is go-go-go to try and accomodate client's schedules, get the dogs to expend as much energy as possible at the park, and minimize drive time in between.  Buddy wasn't really interested in any of those things.

One day, when I was waiting for Buddy to catch up, laughing at the little smirk on his face, I realized why Buddy had come into my life. Buddy was there to teach me to slow down, appreciate things, live in the moment. Life at Buddy's pace means you have time to smell the flowers, to feel the sun on your face, and to just breathe. This is a lesson that couldn't have come at a better time - three years into my business, helping my fiance launch another business, co-head of the Magnuson Dog Walker's Association, and just generally not having a grasp on the whole work-life balance thing, stress was taking a toll on my health and it was time for a change. It has taken me years with some dogs to figure out what I learned from them specifically, sometimes not until years after I've worked with them, but with Buddy, I knew in the first couple weeks. He is not an old dog, hardly past middle age, but he has a look about him that you can tell he is very wise.

Buddy and Stefan

Aside from this life lesson I learned from Buddy, I didn't feel like we bonded very much. I know it may sound crazy-dog-lady-ish, but it was frustrating to me. All of my dogs love me and get excited to see me and I couldn't understand why Buddy could care less about me. I was sweet to him, I gave him treats, I would throw the ball for him when none of the other dogs were looking so he wouldn't be shy about getting it, but at the end of the day, I think I was just "OK" in his eyes. Then, one day Stefan had work off and came to the park with Buddy and met up with our pack. Just like that, the Buddy I remember from years before was back, chasing the ball, romping around, just so happy to have his dad at the park. The way Buddy looks at Stefan is unlike any dog/human interaction I've seen before - they are each other's world. It honestly is the sweetest thing the way Buddy looks at Stefan. 

I was very honest with Stefan about how Buddy was transitioning into the pack. I told him that I didn't think Buddy liked me and that I may not be the right person. I believe there are different types of dog walkers, dog owners, and dogs, and it's important to find the right fit for all three. I was very happy to work with Buddy and Stefan, but I just didn't think Buddy liked me! After seeing the way Buddy behaved when Stefan was around, and seeing how he looked at him, I realized it had absolutely nothing to do with me. Buddy is a one person dog, and Stefan is his person. After figuring this out, my feelings were no longer hurt, and I just cared for Buddy the best I possibly could knowing how loved he is and that while I would probably never get even an ounce of that love, I was just filling in for Stefan during the day, until his favorite human being in the whole world would come home to him. 

Buddy's break through day with me and the pack

Buddy's break through day with me and the pack

Over the past year, Buddy and I have grown to understand each other more and more. I walk a bit slower, just enjoying his company by my side, and he has decided I'm worthy of a good smirk, sometimes even a smile, as he looks up at me. He definitely became my buddy, and the pack just didn't seem quite right when he wasn't there.

Buddy charges ahead

In the last month or so, Stefan has been changing jobs and planning his cross country move, so while he unfortunately cancelled Buddy's service, he started meeting me at the park almost daily. I was grateful to be able to spend that time with Buddy and not have such a sudden good bye, I greatly enjoyed Stefan's company at the park (sometimes the conversations with the dogs feels a little one-sided), but most of all, I absolutely loved watching the two of them interact. While Buddy won't touch a ball when I throw it, he literally will let it bounce off his back and he will walk the other direction, he goes crazy when Stefan pulls the ball out. Stefan cheers Buddy on and gives him tons of praise and encouragement (which I tried too, but still not the same) and Buddy just loves to bring Stefan that ball. One day Stefan laughed and said that he thinks Buddy really just retrieves the ball more for Stefan than for himself, he thought Buddy could care less. I think he might be right, but it was just the sweetest thing to think that Buddy just wanted to please his man so much that he came bounding back time after time. 

I love sharing the growth, changes and daily activities of the pack with my clients and ballwalkpark facebook community. Having Stefan join us at the park over the past few weeks has been so much fun, it is rare that a client actually gets to see that much of our life at the dog park. He has watched Lucy, Sage and Athena all have their first days at the park and grow up since. The dogs run ahead to greet Stefan and Buddy every day, and we enjoy our morning walks with Buddy back in the pack. Stefan has become quite the dog wrangler, and I know the pups will miss he and buddy as much as I will. I am so grateful for these two British men and the impact they've had on ballwalkpark. 

Follow Stefan and Buddy's travels across the country on Stefan's tumblr blog here - http://stefanp1.tumblr.com/. 

See the album of Buddy's going away party at the park today on the ballwalkpark facebook page

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7 tips for Walking Your Dog featured on Pets Best Insurance

I bet you didn't know I was featured on Pets Best Insurance a couple months ago! Check it out:

7 Tips for Walking Your Dog

Posted on: February 22nd, 2013 by Carrie Tiemann

At Pets Best Insurance we want your dog to live a long, happy and healthy life. Part of a healthy dog is ensuring they get good exercise, which we know walks give them. But did you also know it helps maintain the bond between you, and establishes you as the leader?

Professional dog walker, Kelley Goad, of BallWalkPark.com in Seattle shares her top tips/reasons for walking your dog.

1. Have the right gear for your dog

Some dogs do best with a front clip harness (reduces pulling and is very safe), or a head halter, a prong collar or just a flat collar. I find that almost any dog can adapt to the front clip harness very easily and it makes walking much more enjoyable for both of you.

2. Keep a short leash

I like to hold the majority of the leash with my right hand, cross my body and have the dog walking on my left side, and left hand just holds the leash closer to the collar. This gives you a good Plan B should the leash get out of your hand.

3. Carry treats

Carry treats and practice the “leave it” command. It can be very useful when it comes to squirrels, birds, or passing dogs if the sniffing gets a little too invasive.

4. Ditch your Phone

Try to stay off your phone and enjoy this time with your pup. It makes me so happy to spend this time with my dog and see how happy she is trotting along with a big smile on her face. I come home in a better mood every single time we go on a walk. Try it!

5. Exercise, Stimulation and Satisfaction

Walks are great because they provide exercise and mental stimulation. Your pup isn’t only tired from the walk, but is mentally satisfied after tracking down all those scents, observing the sights and sniffing the smells. This combination leads to a more balanced and calmer pup.

6. Dogs thrive on routine

Something as simple as a 20 minute walk in the morning and/or after work can be just what your dog needs to feel like all is OK in their world.

7. Bonding and Pack Hierarchy

Walking your dog is important for creating or maintaining the bond between you two, it also helps establish you as the pack leader.

Sticky Situations at the Dog Park

{As always, I just want to preface this post with the fact that I am not a certified dog trainer, these are just my opinions based on my experience. }

I hear many people say that they took their dog to the dog park when they were younger, and then they got attacked, so they stopped going. While from a loving parent/owner perspective, this totally makes sense, but it makes me so sad to hear. That dog doesn't deserve to miss out on the hundreds, maybe thousands, of fun times at the park and positive social interactions because of that one incident that wasn't their fault. 

I witnessed one of these incidents at the park this afternoon. A woman and her younger lab were in the big field, playing ball and wrestling with pups passing by. A guy was sitting on the table on his phone, where he had been for the last 20 minutes, as his dog ran wild in the main area of the park. There's lots to be said about that alone, but for now, just stating the facts. This guy's dog approached the lab and started circling while the lab, who had been outgoing and playful with other dogs, stuck to the woman's legs. After a few more circles, the lab got brave and stepped out to play with the other dog. Within seconds the play escalated to the other dog attacking the lab. The guy nonchalantly walks over and kicks his dog, leashes her up, and walks off. Both dogs were OK, it was more noise than anything, but clearly scary for the lab's owner. 

When Bailey was younger, and obviously so was I, I am sure I would have acted the exact same way at the lab owner. Uncomfortable but not really sure what to do, feeling very helpless. Between practically living at the dog park for the past nearly 4 years, knowing infinitely more about dogs than I used to, and being responsible for other people's dogs, I have become quiet comfortable taking charge in and trying to prevent these situations before they even begin. So, for whoever happens to stumble across this post, here are my suggestions:

  • always match dogs to their owners, as soon as you see the dog coming near. You want to know who to talk to if you need to.
  • speak up! If someone's dog is making you uncomfortable, ask the owner to get their dog! If their dog is obviously acting in appropriate, I just ask them flat out to come get their dog. If it is something that I am just uncomfortable with, or the owner is obviously oblivious, I make up an excuse that my dog has a problem with white fluffy dogs (or whatever their dog is) and ask if they will hold onto their dog while I walk away.
  • Shoo the dog away. People often hesitate to bark commands at other people's dogs, and rightly so, but when you feel threatened or like your dog may be in danger, by all means, tell that dog to go away! I am honestly surprised how often it works, I always assume if the dog doesn't know me, it won't listen, but if you use a stern tone and just "no" or "go" and point back to where they came from, they almost always go!
  • use your body language. If a dog is approaching your dog and you aren't sure about that dog, use your body to step in between your dog and the oncoming dog. If a dog is viciously charging at you and you just know it is going to bite you, I wouldn't suggest doing this, that is a whole other level I'm not prepared to address, but I will tell you that has never happened to me.
  • know appropriate play. Check out the APDT's article on Dog Park Body Language for a refresher. A couple simple guidelines: 1) both dogs should be having fun, 2) balanced play (take turns chasing, being on bottom), 3) Mutually initiate play and frequent rest breaks, and 4) no ganging up, 1:1 play is best
  • Last, but not least, if it would make you feel more comfortable, you can carry a bottle of SprayShield Animal Deterrent with you. It is forceful citronella spray that is very effective at breaking up dog fights, but completely safe for the dogs.

If you are timid, it may cause your dog to be more timid, which may make them more of a target for bully dogs. Again, I'm not a trainer, but this is something you hear a lot, and I believe it to be true from personal experience. So be confident and know that you are in charge and no dog is going to mess with your pup! Now go find the nice dogs that just want to wrestle and chase and let your pup run herself tired! 

Why do I take pictures?

If you follow ballwalkpark on facebook or instagram, you already know this, i take A LOT of pictures. I always have, whether it be of dogs, friends, things, whatever. I have always felt the need to have a camera in my hand to capture whatever it is I am seeing and share with others. Over the years, I have become a bit obsessed with taking pictures of my dogs, and I recently asked myself why I have over 30,000 pictures of dogs and what is really the point of all of this. I realized that to me, taking pictures is much more than just reporting back to clients.

I take pictures because:

Otis and stubborn Harley.JPG
This is the one. I die laughing every single time I see this picture, and that has to be over 100 times. Sitting by myself, literally laughing out loud as I write this.

This is the one. I die laughing every single time I see this picture, and that has to be over 100 times. Sitting by myself, literally laughing out loud as I write this.

1. I love it. I absolutely love it. I hate to say this, but I take them for myself more than my clients. I love watching the relationships between dogs in my pack develop over time, I love looking back and seeing how much my puppies have grown up, and I love laughing at the pictures! I remember one night I was sitting on the couch with Michael, he was watching tv and I was going through my pictures of the day. I couldn't stop laughing and would interrupt him every 30 seconds because he had to see this one. He does a really good job of acting interested and has perfected the courtesy laugh, but he finally asked me how it was possible that I never got sick of looking at dog pictures. It really hadn't occurred to me before. I see them as being completely different dogs, different relationships, different circumstances, etc. Apparently I'm easily amused, but whatever the reason, I truly love taking these pictures. 

How can you not laugh at that face?

How can you not laugh at that face?

2. My clients love it. Dog walking is a funny thing in that I meet with a new client, they give me a key to their house, then I go on and develop this whole relationship with their dog and they are rarely ever see me again. For all they know, they could have just sent their doberman out to prance around with a pack of chihuahuas in pink coats. I love the community my clients have built on my facebook page. I love that they have come to know each other's dogs and comment on them. They all track the progress of new puppies and send well wishes for pups with injuries. It's such a fun little community that wouldn't exist if these pictures didn't illustrate the relationship their dogs have built within the pack at the dog park. 

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3. I learn so much from these pictures! Things happen fast at the dog park and as attentive as I can be, I have come to rely on these pictures to tell me even more about the interactions that are happening right in front of my eyes. There have been so many times that two dogs are playing seemingly fine, and I look at pictures later and see a look of pure terror in one dogs eyes. Or conversely, today, I thought Jambo and Achilles were playing a bit too rough and I was concerned Achilles was bullying Jambo. I was closely monitoring their play, but when I looked back at pictures, every single time Jambo was going back for more. I could obviously see this while it was happening, but the pictures confirmed Jambo's body language that he was relaxed, happy and showed no signs of stress. This is also how I found out that our sweet little angel, Bambi, had a bit of teenage angst inside. Before this picture we thought little Violet was the one terrorizing Bam!  When the dogs are playing and wrestling, they are moving so fast and making so many strange noises (especially the frenchies) it's impossible to get as close of a look as you would from a picture.  Dogs use body language for so much of their communication that it only makes sense to freeze those moments in time and take a closer look. Of course these moments are in the past, but since I have a consistent group of dogs going together, it helps me understand the development of relationships amongst the pack. There are definitely times when the expressions are misleading, like when Bonita and Jambo are wrestling and I catch a picture of the vicious golden teeth. In real life, they really aren't playing that rough and they aren't vampires, they just make for great action shots :) There is no scientific or behavioral based evidence behind any of this at all, but it's just my thoughts on why I find taking pictures so valuable. 

I spend hours a day going through pictures, I take about 500 pictures a day. During the summer, I take my phone out into the water with me and everyone asks if I worry that I will ruin it. Of course I do, and I have ruined a couple, but for me, the risk of taking it out and getting those pictures is worth it for the rewards I get from these pictures.

I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them!

How to not greet a dog

Being able to take your dog out and about with you is one of the great things about having a dog. The companionship, watching them explore the world with a curiosity we long forgot about, and the smiles they bring to people's faces are some of the highlights for me. These excursions are so important for your dog too, it provides socialization, mental stimulation, and bonding with you. 

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is to take Bailey to the Ballard Farmer's market. She's great in crowds; she grew up living in the Pike Place Market, going to the Bite of Seattle, UofW tailgates, etc. She has been socialized in situations like these since she was a very young pup, so she is very comfortable in crowds. Luckily, she is a typical happy and not phased by much, but I am still blown away by how people interact with dogs in crowded places. While she is on a short leash, right by my side, I will be paying for my flowers then look down and see people just grabbing at her and petting her. They have good intentions of course, but if I were Bailey, I would be pretty overwhelmed! Catch me in a bad mood and I wouldn't past me to snap at a hand in my face! Fortunately, my happy-go-lucky lab soaks up all the attention she can get, but that is not true of a lot of dogs, and I see it on their faces all the time at the market.

The interesting thing is, the little kids are always the ones who ask to pet her, which of course I say yes, but the adults always just reach and grab. Not even putting a hand out to sniff first. Number 1 rule: ask to pet someone's dog. Believe me, I know that sometimes a dog is so freakin cute you just have to pet them immediately, but you just don't know when the feeling may not be mutual. We have to respect the dogs space just as we expect them to respect ours. The image below has wonderful information thanks to Doggie Drawings.  Please share this info! 

New Years Resolution update: 1 down, 2 to go

My new years resolution is actually going even better than I thought! My resolution was to teach all of my pups to ride in the back of the truck. I had three main suspects, Cooper, Otis and Achilles. They had their various reasons for getting to ride in the back seat, each of which I have tried to tackle over the past few weeks. I am proud to report that Cooper has been converted to a backseat rider, Otis is making great progress and Achilles is next. Cooper has riden in the back of the truck to and from the park for 3 park trips now. He doesn't voluntarily get in, I have to hold his collar and walk him to the tailgate, Cooper in the truckbut as soon as we get there, he leaps right in. He is such a good boy in the truck, he doesn't try to jump out when I load other dogs, he just rides quietly. He has been so good, he even got to increase his schedule from 3x/wk to 4x/wk! I couldn't accomodate that change before because I didn't have enough spots in my backseat on the other days.... All it took was the magic mozzarella and proscuitto (itty bitty minuscule pieces go a long ways!) from Trader Joe's! So proud of Coop!!!!

Otis has been a backseat rider because he just got too excited when he was in the back of the truck. He would start barking and screaming when we got to Montlake and still had at least 20 minutes until we got to the park. photo 2-12Once we were at the park, as soon as I even cracked open the tailgate window, he would launch over my head and jump out and start barking. Needless to say, it was a little chaotic and didn't set a good example for the other dogs. My solution was to start putting Otis in a crate in the back of the truck. So far, it has been working out great! He loves riding in the crate. I think it makes him much calmer. photo 1-11 It seems that Otis just really needs personal space and having a little distance from the other dogs really has made a difference. He goes in the crate even when it's just left open. He has been laying down the whole way to the park, only barks for a minute and is quiet when I ask him, and doesn't launch over my head when it's time to get out! Today he even got out of his crate, grabbed his ball, and quietly waited for me to let everyone out. We will have to see if this becomes a habit, but so far, I like what I'm seeing!

It's funny that with these two dogs, Cooper and Otis, I had just accepted their quirks about the back of the truck and gave into letting them ride in the front for over a year (or more). Once I set my mind to making a change, it hasn't been that hard!

photo 3-8Next up is Achilles. He is gladly launching into the back seat now, which is a huge improvement from me trying to shove his 160lbs in there against his will. At this point he is a little too comfortable with the back seat. As soon as I am confident Cooper is comfortable with the new routine, and Otis is more settled, I will start working on Achilles. In the meantime, he makes sure to let me know he is there!

ballwalkpark's 3rd birthday!!!

Three years ago today was my first day of ballwalkpark! I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has believed in, supported, and shared your pups with ballwalkpark. I love this business, I have the most amazing employee, Nancy, the most amazing clients and of course, the most amazing dogs. I can't believe how fortunate I am to have all of these people and dogs in my life. Thank you to all of you who have grown with me over the years and patiently taught me how to run this business better. I have learned so much from my clients and their dogs, and am lucky enough to call many of them great friends and some have even become family.

Several times a week, I can't believe that this is really my job. I used to be the person that would beg to come over and meet a friend's new puppy, now people I don't even know call me and pay me to come play with their dogs!

IMG_5467Even after the worst days, I can't help but laugh. When I tell my fiance about my day and tell him I got pushed down in a mud puddle, tripped, bit and had to clean up puke out of the front seat and diarrhea out of the back of the truck, I can't help but laugh. After a hot shower and a good dinner, I have totally forgotten about the day and am ready to see the pups again in the morning. It feels so good to wake up and want to go to work every day!

The absolute best thing that I have experienced in this business is gaining the trust of my clients. There is no greater compliment than when I ask my clients if I can take their dog somewhere or do something and the response is "whatever you want, I trust you". 555187_10151431046967433_1598840581_nEven more than that, being trusted to take a pup to the dog park. I know that Nancy and I love these dogs and truly do treat them the same (if not sometimes better!) than our own dogs, but for our clients to know and believe that means so much to us. Watching these pups grow up, learn new tricks, and develop a bond with the pack is such a rewarding way to spend the day.

377076_10151202575917433_1405572849_nWhen I started dog walking three years ago, there were about 20% of the dog walking businesses that there are now. Back then, dog walkers had a reputation of being weird, fanny pack wearing, socially awkward with a manly voice (which was never really true to begin with, but the stereotype was definitely there). I have consciously reminded myself to brush my hair, occasionally lint roll the dog hair, put on clean clothes even if they are going to get immediately dirty again. In many ways I have resisted letting myself be the stereotypical dog walker (and will continue to!) but I admit that I have really adopted certain parts of the dog walker lifestyle. Here is what 3 years of ballwalkpark has done to me:

  • I always speak for myself and the dogs, even when I am alone, (i.e. can you hold the door for us?). People must think I have an imaginary friend.
  • Every coat pocket has treats and poop bags, if the pocket hasn't been chewed out yet
  • I can pick up a poop, kick a ball, and tell a dog to stop humping, simultaneously, all while on auto-pilot
  • I know every single back street route between Queen Anne and Magnuson park
  • I make the weird dog walker sounds at the park. I don't know why or how this happened, but it has. Anything to get those dogs to follow me!
  • I am able to identify each of my dogs by their bark and their poop
  • My natural reaction upon walking in a dog owner's house is to drop on the floor and play with the dog
  • I should own stock in Lululemon and laundry detergent
  • I have over 30,000 dog pictures. My computer has crashed numerous times. My external hardrives are full.

Three years feels good. I feel confident while still challenged. I am so grateful for all of you who have helped me get to this point, your support has meant the world to me. I don't know exactly what the next three years will look like, but I have some ideas I am pretty excited about. Stay tuned!

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Rowdy sibling walk

Bailey and Otis are basically brother and sister, they have spent more time together than apart in the last 3 years. They stay at each other's houses, spend holidays together and go on vacation together. They had me cracking up on our walk this morning. [gallery ids="1256,1257,1258,1254,1253,1251,1250,1252"]