Sunday, August 29, 2010

Puppy Socialization At Petco

Photo by Lars Christiansen

One of the most challenging tasks as a dog owner is to properly socialize your dog. If your puppy is naturally shy or skittish a puppy socialization class is a great way to go.

Petco Puppy Socialization Classes

One of the best ways to exercise your dog is by having a play session. Petco Pet Stores offers free puppy socialization classes. Petco has stores located all over the United States. It builds their tolerance of other dogs and gives the owner a sense of how well your dog can adjust in unfamiliar situations.

It's a great way for your dog to be social and will be a good base to build upon when your take it to other places like parks, beaches and campgrounds. Homer, Cookie and Gigi seemed to enjoy this and I learned quite a bit about his interactions in a controlled environment. He seems to like his room and is better suited for a dog park or the local dog beach.

If you would like to see if Petco offers a puppy socialization class in your area, you'll want to check out their store locator.

Let's Discuss!

Have you been to Petco's socialization classes? What was the greatest benefit for your dog?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Dogs Chew What They Shouldn't Giveaway Winner

Hi Everyone!

I decided to pick the winner in an unusual way. This was my first time using my camera, so the quality of the video isn't the best. I used the video mode on my camera to record the winner.
What I did was put a dog treat (Snausage Twist to be exact) under each cup and the first cup that Homer hit with his nose turned out to be the winner. The choice was all Homer's since his nose knows no boundaries. You can play the videos to find out the result below:

Contest Part 1 from Elena Papastefan on Vimeo.

Homer Chooses the Winner from Elena Papastefan on Vimeo.

Thank you to Jessica from CSN Stores and to all of you guys who chose to enter. I hope you have a fabulous day. Thanks for stopping in and for being patient.

Related Post

When Dogs Chew What They Shouldn't Giveaway

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Hijinks With Homer

Many times one will notice that life imitates art. This was the case for Homer and myself earlier this evening.

One Great Adventure

I decided to take him for a guest spot in agility, since I'll be back in school the following week. He was happy to be there and mastered the tasks like a real pro. I drove home with him later looking forward to starting obedience class with him next.

Driving home was a breeze. I was a couple of blocks away and I decided to close the rear windows on the car. Homer was in the front seat and enjoying sticking his head out the partially opened window.

Then, all of a sudden, he noticed a woman and her dog across the way. He started barking, and I grabbed his leash to secure him. Little did I know that he managed to push the passenger side window all the way down, before I was able to secure the electronic window lock.

Life Imitating Art

The next thing I knew, I was making a left turn and Homer was hanging out the side of the window with me holding his leash. I pulled over to the side of the street and tried to pull him back up, but the collar had unsnapped. Looking over, I then saw Homer standing with the dog he was barking at and the dog's owner. I flashed back to the book Marley and Me because there is a scene in the book that is very similar to what happened here.

I couldn't believe he crossed a two-lane road and had not gotten injured. When I had trekked over to the lady and her dog, Homer was there. He took one look at me and then took off. Freedom could not be sweeter for him at that moment in time. He ran over to another house and sniffed along the fence. At the edge of the fence were some dense shrubs that were eight feet high. He squeezed through them and explored the yard on the other side.

The lady and her dog saw me trying to squeeze through. She told me she would go around on the other side. After getting through the bushes, Homer saw me again and took off running. He ran about three houses down and was intrigued by this side stoop at the third house. Just as I had gotten there, the door was opening and an older gentlemen was startled at the sight of Homer.

He told me he was going to let his dog out and I apologized and showed him my leash and dangling collar. His dog was a big dog who was thrilled to bark at Homer. When I was close to reaching Homer, he took off yet again. He wandered to the front of the house and wound up on the front stoop. I was thrilled when I saw that there was a railing on two sides making a corner with the house. Homer could only get out one way, and I was blocking his exit. I was finally able to put his collar back on him.

I ran into the woman and her dog and thanked her for her help. I wound up walking two blocks back to the car and told Homer we're going home now.

Homer has turned out to be a dog that's full of surprises. Some dogs love routine, and dogs like Homer love to forge their own way. A seatbelt harness for dogs is the next item on my list.

Well, thank you all for stopping in. I'd love to hear your comments. Hope you all have a great weekend.

*Don't forget the When Your Dog Chews What He Shouldn't Giveaway ends Friday. Don't miss out on a chance to win a $40.00 USD gift card from CSN Stores.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coon Dog Cemetery

Photo: Janice Williams, Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau

One day last year, I was watching the movie Sweet Home Alabama. It was a carefree romantic comedy that I found entertaining. One of the subplots in the movie had to do with the dog named Buddy that Melanie and Jake had when they first were married. He had passed and was buried in Coon Dog Cemetery.

About Coonhound Cemetery

In real life, there was a man named Key Underwood. His dog Troop had loved the camp where they would hunt all the time. In 1937, time had passed and and on Labor Day of that year, Troop crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It turned out his final resting place was Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, (also known as Coon Dog Cemetery).

Every year, thousands of people from all over come to visit this historic cemetery. The Tennessee Valley Coon Hunter’s Association hosts a celebration at the cemetery on Labor Day every year. Entertainment includes music, dancing, food and a liar's contest.

What makes this cemetery unique is that the only dogs that are allowed are Coonhounds. Coonhound owners have this unique bond. Located in northwest Alabama, there are over 185 dogs buried there. This cemetery was inspired in 1937 by Key Underwood and his dog Troop who had hunted together for over 15 years. This spot originated at a camp and Troop loved being there.

Photo: Janice Williams
Today, it's a huge tourist attraction and still follows the same selective process of allowing Coonhounds to be buried there. When asked why other breeds of dogs aren't accepted, Mr. Underwood said "You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dog." Find out more at the Coon Dog Cemetery website.

Coonhounds are a special breed of dog. Known to track raccoons and other similar animals, they are adored by hunters these dogs stand out in the crowd because they will point out the tree the animal runs up instead of just tracking the animal on the ground. There are seven breeds of Coonhounds, all of which are accepted by the UKC and AKC.

Coonhound Varieties

  • Black and Tan Coonhound
  • This breed originated from the American Foxhound and the Virginia Foxhound. Later on, part got thrown into the mix. As a result, these dogs are bigger boned and have those trademark black and tan markings. They range in height from 23 to 27 inches (58 to 69cm) and a weight of 50 to 75 pounds (23 to 34kg) for males. Females range in height from 21 to 26 inches (53 to 66cm) and 40 to 65 pounds in weight (18 to 29kg).They are active, fast, courageous and kind.
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • American Leopard Hound
  • American Leopard Hounds originated from Spain. They were brought to America and mixed with Mexican dogs. This breed will hunt larger game like cougars and bears, as well as, smaller animals. They are known for having great stamina and being able to tolerate extreme climates. They are easy to train and are eager to please.
    Known for their spotted markings they come in leopard-color, red, brindle, blue and mousy colors. They are roughly the same height as the American Black and Tan Coonhound but their weight is 35 to 65 pounds (16 to 29kg) for females and 45 to 75 (20 to 34kg) pounds for males.
  • BlueTick Coonhound
  • These dogs are a combination of the English Foxhounds and the French hounds. This intelligent dog is great for families with older children. They are strong, independent dogs who have great speed on the trail. The ideal owner must be a strong pack leader to let the dog know what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable.
    Photo: Wikipedia
    Their coloring is mottled with blue markings with their ears tending to be black. Others may have tan markings but blue is the standard coloring. Height for the dogs is 22 to 27 inches (56 to 69 cm) for males and 21 to 25 inches (53 to 64 cm) for females. Weight ranges from 55 to 80 pounds (25 to 36 kg) for males and 45 to 65 pounds (20 to 29 kg) for females.
  • English Coonhound
  • The English Coonhound was originally bred to hunt foxes and raccoons. When the dog arrived in America, American owners bred the dogs to adapt to hunting opossums, raccoons, cougar and bear. This dog is capable of great speed and endurance. They are graceful as well. They have a pleasant and sociable personality.
    Photo: Wikipedia
    The height requirements of the hound are identical to the Bluetick Coonhound. Weight ranges in accordance to height. They come in a variety of colors including: red and white, lemon and white, black and white, redtick, bluetick and tricolor with ticking.
  • Plott Hound
  • The true origin of the Plott Hound is from Germany. Named after Jonathan Plott, these dogs were brought from Germany where they hunted wild boar to England in 1750, where they learned to hunt bears. His son Henry later settled in North Carolina in the early 1800's and to this day, the dog is beloved by the state for its big game hunting. The breed is active, fast, cute, confident alert and courageous. It's an effective treeing dog and loves the water.
    Photo: Dr. Dominik Hessenmöller
    The Plott Hound is known for its brindle coloring. You'll never find this dog in a single color coat but any variation of brindle is common. Plott Hounds are approximately 22 to 27 inches (50 to 71 cm) at the withers for males, 21 to 25 inches (53 to 58 cm) for females. Males should weigh 50 to 75 pounds (23 to 27 kg). Females should weigh 40 to 65 pounds (18 to 25 kg).
  • Redbone Coonhound
  • These dogs of Scottish ancestry were bred to hunt bear, cougar and raccoon. The modern-day Redbone hails from Georgia. This agile breed can cover terrains from swamplands to the mountains. They are water dogs who have an even temperment, are affectionate and love to please.
    Photo: Wikipedia
    This breed is one of the most distinguishable coonhounds because of its lustrous red coat. It used to be a combination of red and black but the black markings were bred out of it. Now, it's common to see an plain red coat or a red coat with a white chest. The height of these dogs are 22-27 inches (56-69 cm) for a male, with females being slightly shorter at 21-26 inches (53–66 cm). Weight should be proportionate to build.
  • Treeing Walker Coonhound
  • Treeing Walker Coonhounds were named after Thomas Walker, a man who brought the breed to Virginia in 1742. These breeds were foxhounds that were crossed with Virginia hounds. They are very similar to the Black and Tan Hound. This energetic dog is a favorite among Coonhound lovers for its energy and excellent treeing instinct. Intelligent, active, courteous, composed, confident, fearless and kind, this dog has an extreme endurance and a love for competition.
    Photo: Wikipedia
    The height of these dogs is 22 to 27 inches (56-69 cm) for males, and 20 to 25 inches (50 to 58 cm) for females. Tri-colored are the predominant coloring for the breed. However, it's also common to find these dogs with black and white as well as white with tan.

Let's Discuss!

Have you visited this special place? What is your favorite Coonhound?

Learn More About This

Coon Dog Cemetery Website
Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau
United Kennel Club
American Kennel Club
Sweet Home Alabama (Available From Amazon)
How To Raise And Train A Coonhound by S. Henschel

Reminder: There are only two days left for a chance to win a $40 gift card from CSN Stores. Tell us all about what your dog has destroyed in the comments section.

What My Dog Loves To Destroy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A New Workout For Us All

Homer, Cookie, Gigi and Me (Photo taken by Vange Papastefan)

Last week, I went to see a trainer at Petco. She was nice enough to talk to me about Homer's behavior. It came down to the same thing--he wasn't getting enough exercise. Well, I thought to myself, if taking him on a walk three times a day isn't enough then what can I do?

The answer was: ROLLERBLADING!

Taking the dogs all together on rollerblades would be possible, but I knew that Cookie would not have as much fun as the other two. Cookie gets overwhelmed by the heat and humidity and the trainer suggested that I take her separately.

Since the weather has been pretty hot during the day, I figured the best time to skate with the dogs would be in the morning for the first walk. There would be enough sunlight and it wouldn't be too hot yet.

Taking the two of them turned out to be pretty well. When my speed got a little too fast, I would slow down by swiveling on my skates (The same way you would do with skiing) or jumping on the grass. Luckily, I haven't fallen yet.

It always starts out with Homer pulling me but ends up with me pulling them both. The higher speed gives them the quality of a run but the convenience of me using a leash. Better yet, it keeps my weight down. After I take Homer and Gigi home, I then take Cookie for as short or long of a walk as she is up for. She usually lets me know when she's had enough and she's ready to head back. I will probably continue to do this until at least the end of summer, if not longer.

Rollerblading Tips

    I only recommend this as an activity to do with dogs if:
  • The person is an expert skater. You need great balance and patience for this to go smoothly.
  • It also helps to have lots of sidewalks or a smooth parking lot.
  • Start out in short distances and build up your speed.

I've been doing this for a week now and it's made a huge difference in Homer's behavior around the house. He's not as compelled to chew up things he shouldn't because he isn't as bored. We'll see how this works down the road.

Let's Discuss!

What is the best way for you to exercise with your dog? Do you have a dog with boundless energy like Homer?

Related Posts

Workouts For Owners and Dogs
Rollerblading With The Pooches
8 Tips To Remember When Running With Your Dog
Take A Hike

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Athletic Pets

Athletic Pets Website

I remember when I came across some Chicago Cubs leashes for Cookie and Gigi at a local pet boutique. I was so excited that I didn't mind that they looked like they were for male dogs. I was just happy to find them.

When you live in a big city, it may be commonplace to find these items but many people in the United States live to far from a big city. That's why I love this website. It's called Athletic Pets and has been online since 2006 when Maceo's owner was looking for a dog collar in support of his favorite sports team. Since then, they have hundreds of products for various sports leagues. These teams are primarily American and include: MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA and NASCAR.

Depending on the team, they offer bandanas, collars, leashes and even ID tags. Their prices are reasonable and free shipping is available for purchases of $75 USD or more. If you have a family member or friend who's a die-hard sports fan, this may be a website to check out.

Let's Discuss!

Are you a huge sports fan? Do you have your pet show its team support?

Related Posts

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!
Afternoon At The Pet Boutique

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Dogs Chew What They Shouldn't Giveaway

Dogs are notorious for finding some of our most prized possessions as part of their chew toy collection. Homer has been a challenge when trying to chew blankets, kitchen rugs, pillows and shoes. The only thing he's stopped short of chewing is the dining room furniture.

While working through his chewing problem takes patience and consistency, I honestly believe we can overcome it. Reading articles like this one gives me hope. This brings me to the latest contest which is sponsored by CSN Stores.

My Dog Loves To Chew Contest

This contest is inspired by Homer and all the dogs who just find themselves chewing things they shouldn't. How does it work? Well, you can enter one of two ways:
  1. Write a comment below on an incident where you caught your dog chewing something that was off-limits.
  2. Tweet this on Twitter and put a link to the tweet in the comment section. I just entered the When Dogs Chew What They Shouldn't #Giveaway at Too Kool Doggies.

What's needed to Win!

One lucky winner will win a $40 USD Gift Card for CSN Stores. The gift card can be used in any of their 200 stores.

The winner must live in the U.S. or Canada and must have a valid e-mail address. Contest Winner will be chosen at random. If there are any questions, please contact me at my e-mail address. Only one entry per person. All multiple entries will be disqualified.

Contest Ends August 20th at 11:59 P.M. CST.

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Chic, Sleek and Unique Giveaway
4 Reasons Dogs Like To Destroy Your Things

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Agility Diaries - Final Session

Test Day

Last night, Homer and I attended the final week of agility class. Tonight we would be evaluated to see if he could advance in the class. The course was set up for one huge run. I was hoping to be able to record a video of Homer's run but due to technical difficulties, that wasn't possible.

I will tell you this. Homer did extremely well for a first-timer. He nailed most of the equipment except for the hoops at the end and jumping through a tire. The instructor was hoping I would sign him up for another session but with school in the fall happening on the same day, I would not be able to go anymore. However, they have guest trainer spots available so I may squeeze Homer in for one class before school starts.

What I've Learned From This

Agility has taught me a great deal about Homer.
  • For one thing, he is trainable and always stays calm.
  • He tends to get distracted by other dogs but will quickly refocus when prompted with a treat.
  • Homer had a positive outlet for his excess energy.
  • Even dogs that are difficult to train benefit from learning agility.
  • Ginger Snaps are great for curbing carsickness.
  • It helps to be in shape for a full scale agility run.

Let's Discuss!

For all of you who have had your dog in dog agility, what are some of the most valuable lessons you learned from it?

Other Agility Diaries Posts

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

I hope you all have a great weekend. Thanks for stopping in.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Barking Dog Alarms

Some people aren't able to have dogs. Their either afraid of them or they don't have the time for a dog. Having a dog isn't for everyone. One thing that can't be denied is how dogs are a deterrent for burglary.

Some security companies have taken this into account by creating motion-activated barking dog alarms. When a person approaches your door, it will activate a bark that will get louder the closer a person approaches. These alarms cost much less than a full-scale alarm system and are simple to set up.

The brand I like (which is available at

Rex Plus

STI ED-50 Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog, Barking Dog Alarm
Rex Plus is created by Safety Technology International. It costs roughly $85.95 USD at Amazon but one can find it at other places online too.

Let's Discuss!

What do you think about these alarms, brilliant invention or lame gimmick?

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Horses, Rabbits, and Skunks, Oh My!

Group Of Walkers at Walk For Love


As you know, I'm always trying to find new activities to keep Homer at his peak performance. It turned out that Heartland Animal Shelter had a special event for walkers and runners. It was called the Walk Of Love - 9Ks for K9s. Runners would participate in the 9K run and walkers like myself would do the 2 mile (3.2km) walk.

I decided to do the walk with just Gigi and Homer. I had Cookie stay at home because it's been really humid lately and the humidity had been making her limp quite a bit. It rained the night before and the humidity really hadn't lightened up very much. Homer and Gigi on the other, hand were thrilled to have a workout session like this.

It wasn't too sunny and parts of the forest preserve had quite a few wet spots. I was able to avoid most of them and the dogs were ready for anything. It was a tranquil walk. Since we had started a little later than the others, we saw most of the walkers with their dogs on their way back. The trees lined the path and really brought me back to the simplicity of nature. Because of the rain, the walk was shortened slightly but it was still a great way to start the day. I even ran into two horses that both Gigi and Homer were wanting to chase. In a couple moments, the horses were a distant memory.
Horses Off In The Distance
The finish line had breakfast from Whole Foods as they had sponsored the fundraiser. There was a photographer taking pictures of the walkers. There was even a pet psychic but since there was a line, I didn't want to wait. After a hectic morning, both Homer and Gigi had a relaxing day sleeping.


This was a typical day spent with the dogs. I could tell that the temperature was rising. Taking the dogs for their usual walk, Homer's leash slipped off of my wrist and took off running. I followed with Cookie and Gigi trekking behind me. He ran about six houses down the block. I almost was able to grab him and then he took off into the backyard and through the bushes. I heard a woman say "Excuse Me" and just as I told her that it was my dog and I was about to squeeze through the bushes, Homer bounded back hot on the trail of a rabbit. I quickly grabbed him and had him say goodbye to the rabbit. After that, the walk finished smoothly.

The real fun began when my mom let Homer out for a couple of minutes before bedtime. Homer's nose found its way right to the skunk who was visiting our backyard. Sure enough, he got sprayed right in the face. He came in the house and the smell was potent. I had to put him back outside and put together a mixture to remove the smell. I made two batches of the hydrogen peroxide mixture. Homer got it pretty bad in the face, and was very sensitive the the mixture. I've found that pouring it on worked best.

After toweling him off, using the air freshener and cleaning the floors with white vinegar, it was about 12:30 in the morning. Homer was still a little shaken trying to rub his face on the carpeting so I gave him his favorite Kong Bone stuffed with string cheese to distract him. I am happy to report it did. After everything that happened, we were all exhausted after the whole incident.

Let's Discuss!

Have you had a day where your pets ran into a variety of other animals? What do you do when your dogs get sprayed by a skunk?

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Oh No! My Dog Got Skunked!


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