Pet Insurance 101

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Pet Insurance 101
Pet Insurance 101 graphic created by Trupanion.



We were not compensated for this post.

Dachsies With Moxie Tapestries, Quilts and More! A Guest Blog By Agnes Bullock

My name is Agnes Bullock and I have an Etsy shop called Dachsies With Moxie Tapestries, Quilts and More.  I opened the shop last fall, after I began making pet portrait quilts and place mats for friends on Blogville. I am a novice, self-taught quilter who lives in Ohio with my husband Geoffrey and our five dachshunds, Ginger, Chip, Thai, Tasha and Anna Rose.

I learned to sew over thirty years ago in Home Ec, but hated it!  When I was honorably discharged from the Army in 1988, I bought a Singer sewing machine and tried teaching myself to sew- not until I moved back to NY four years later, did I finally conquer craft sewing and made wreaths and trees for my family for Christmas, and dipped my hand into the world of quilting. I became frustrated with that and gave up sewing for twenty years.  Fast forward to the summer of 2011- thanks to the friends that I was beginning to make via the blogging world (which involved pets), I found myself compelled to purchase a couple of dachshund related quilting patterns, and then suddenly I had the idea to take the photo of a friend’s dachshund and make a quilt from the photo! My very first creation was of Frankie Furter, the Mayor of Blogville, a gorgeous black and tan long-haired mini dachshund.



Utilizing the first photo, I made an applique pattern with the help of Adobe Photoshop, cutting and fusing the pieces to the background of the quilt top, then embroidered each piece in place.  I then completed the piecing the quilt top, then added the backing and batting before quilting and binding. Frankie was made as a thank you gift to new friends who have become a source of strength and inspiration especially since my husband was laid off without notice in mid August of 2011.

My second pet portrait quilt was for another Blogville friend, whose beloved dachshund, Twix, had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  I again used a picture of Twix the Twixerrific, and cut and pieced away, completing the quilt and mailing it the same day as Frankie’s went out.  I simply wanted to help her Mom and Dad deal with the hurt of losing her so soon.

The response to Frankie’s quilt was huge- his Mom and Dad went crazy over it and she ordered a pet portrait of her daughter’s German Shepherd, Sarge!

Sarge was supposed to be a Christmas present, but was shipped off for Thanksgiving, and was loved by his peeps!  (I took pictures of every step of the way for Lana)

While I was working on Sarge, Lana was talking me into starting up a little cottage industry, making the pet portraits for Etsy- I was quite unsure, since I  am relatively new to quilting after a 20 year hiatus, and didn’t want to promise something that I could not deliver.  I also tried my hand at making place mats- one of our Blogville friends was loving the quilts and I wanted to surprise her and so the Miss Amber Da Weenie place mat line was born-


With the advent of the place mat line, I soon had my first order (not through Etsy- a direct commission)- Sarge’s Mom wanted a set of six place mats of Frankie for Christmas!  I found myself in the position of working on a gift for Lana, while working on another commission from Lana- who had ordered another quilt, this time with two portraits, of Frankie’s wives Ruby and Penny!!  On top of that, I was turning my hand to pillows to see if they would be feasible a  gift from me to Lana, a pillow of Ernie, Frankie’s puppy, and another of Frankie, which my dachsies insisted that I make!

I also participated in a couple of giveaways and auctions in Blogville, during November and December one for Pet Blogs United, and for Crossed Paws– both were of place mats that became Christmas presents! The Crossed Paws family also ordered a place mat for a friend in the United Kingdom-

I also received lots of encouragement from Blogville- Sugar the Golden retriever’s Mom created the banner for my Etsy shop and other friends gave me much-needed advice!

Right before Christmas, however, a tragedy struck our Blogville family- friends in Texas lost five of their pack to a terrible house fire just before Christmas.  These heroic animals, now called The Fearless Five, gave their lives warning their peeps and no one was lost.  Guero, Coco Chanel, Shelby, Lucky and Tiger perished saving their people, and will never be forgotten.  I had just received a large commission, from the White Dog Army, and I now found myself torn I wanted to make a queen sized memory quilt, but with the WDA order and Christmas didn’t think that I could handle the work load.  The Mom of the WDA, graciously allowed me to piece the top of the Fearless Five Memory Quilt.  Donations of fabric poured in from South America, the UK, Australia, Canada, and all over the United States.  A real quilter from NY, Cynthia Welch, volunteered her services and quilted and bound what became a king sized undertaking.


Accompanying the quilt were private commissions of love two pillows, a baby quilt, two bandanas for the surviving pack members, and two prayer shawls for the Mom and Grandmother of The Fearless Five pack.  All told, the quilt and these items reached our friends at the end of February.  Sixty people world-wide donated fabric to this undertaking without them, none of these gifts were possible.

Right after that, I started the White Dog Army commission- a large quilt, 70 X 55, with FIVE pet portraits!  My husband helped he is my right hand and he is in charge of fabric choice and pattern making without him, DWM would not be possible.  Sue received her birthday gift the weekend before and loved it.

Right now, I am working on three auction items a set of four place mats, a pillow and a quilt!  These will be shipping this month!

While I have not had any Etsy orders, I keep my hand in quilting and taking online quilting classes.  I make items for auctions and giveaways, and am hoping that my business starts to take off I can easily accommodate orders of up to three/four quilts a week plus 12 placemats per week. I am not limited to dog portraits cats, etc are welcome!  My current Etsy listings are linked below:



From Dakota’s Den: we were honored and excited to feature Agnes on Dakota’s blog. When we stumbled upon her and saw her work we were just overcome with how talented she is. We hope you enjoyed learning more about her as much as we did!

Pet Poisons: Common Household Hazards That Can Harm Your Pet, A Guest Blog By

Spring sure has arrived early for many of us in the U.S. Here in Michigan our normal highs should be in the 40s and we have experienced temperatures in the 70s and low 80s for about a week now!

I took a walk this morning and the buds on the trees are fat and plump, which doesn’t usually happen until late April or early May!

With the early arrival of Spring, Spring cleaning will more than likely be occurring earlier as well. Whether it be indoor cleaning or outdoor gardening/fixing-up, there are things we should watch out for that could put our pets at risk. has you covered with important tips in their blog post below!

Pet Poisons: Common Household Hazards That Can Harm Your Pet


  • Detergents and fabric softener sheets can cause ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate
  • Household cleaners, such as bleach, drain cleaners, ammonia and toilet bowl cleaners can cause gastrointestinal ulcers in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: varies
  • Insecticides in flea and tick products can cause problems if not used according to labels. Insecticides that are meant for dogs can cause severe toxicity in cats, leading to vomiting, seizures and difficulty breathing. Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe
  • Mothballs, especially if they contain naphthalene, can be toxic to dogs and cats, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urination and seizures. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe
  • Yard Care/Garden:

  • Yard products, including snail and slug bait, herbicides and fertilizers, are never good for pets. Signs will vary by the ingredient. Toxicity Ranking: varies
  • Fertilizers can contain poisonous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, herbicides and pesticides. Keep dogs and cats away from treated lawns until they are dry. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate
  • Lilies — Easter, day, tiger, Japanese and Asiatic varieties — can cause kidney failure in cats. Lilies of the valley can cause heart rhythm problems and death in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe
  • Tulip bulbs can lead to mouth irritation, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate (potentially life threatening)
  • For more information on household hazards and many other pet topics, please visit 

Trupanion® now offers coverage and/or premium discounts for therapeutic and preventative pet nutrition

The full line of Hill’s® Prescription Diet®

and Science Diet® Healthy Advantage™

pet foods are now part of the Trupanion™ Pet Insurance coverage! 

I have featured Trupanion on my other blog, Cat Chat, quite regularly and was pleased when I was contacted by Hill’s to see if I would be interested in sharing some new information!

Trupanion just announced this week that the company’s dog and cat insurance now includes benefits for veterinary therapeutic pet foods, including the full line of Hill’s® Prescription Diet® pet foods, and veterinary exclusive preventative nutrition, Hill’s® Science Diet® Healthy Advantage™ pet food. The insurance covers half the cost of therapeutic pet foods including Hill’s Prescription Diet pet foods for two months followed by a discount on the monthly insurance premium for continued feeding of the therapeutic pet food, available exclusively through veterinary hospitals. Veterinary healthcare teams can find out more about the program through their Trupanion Territory Partner or by calling 1-800-569-7913 (then pressing #1). 

“The high cost of medical care is a part of everyday life in human medicine, and insurance coverage can help offset that burden,” said Howard Rubin, COO of Trupanion. “We’re offering a similar plan to assist owners in giving their dogs and cats what they need to have a better quality of life.” 

Trupanion’s dog and cat policies offer one simple plan with 90 percent coverage and no annual, per claim, or lifetime payout limit. With a veterinary physical exam, Trupanion also offers a 30 Day “no obligation” Trial for pet owners, giving them time to decide if the plan fits their needs and budget. The 30 Day Trial waives typical waiting periods so coverage is effective immediately. 

“It makes sense for us to get the news out about Trupanion’s new coverage. This helps pet owners be in a better place to comply with a recommended veterinary therapeutic pet food and supports the healthcare team’s action plan when it comes to nutrition for every pet,” said Janet Donlin, D.V.M., chief veterinary officer at Hill’s. 

For more than a decade, Trupanion has offered affordable pet insurance coverage for cats and dogs that enroll between the ages of 8 weeks and 14 years of age. Trupanion offers pet owners one plan that covers accidents, illnesses, medications and lab work. In addition, Trupanion never penalizes pets for aging or being unlucky enough to file a claim. 

About Trupanion Pet Insurance 
Trupanion pet insurance is available for cats and dogs in the United States and Canada. Trupanion is underwritten by its’ affiliate, the American Pet Insurance Company, allowing Trupanion to offer a customizable pet insurance policy with no benefit schedules. Trupanion’s mission is to protect the cherished bond between pets and their families by ensuring that pets are able to receive optimal veterinary care. For more information about Trupanion, call 800-569-7913 or visit You can also follow Trupanion on Twitter or Facebook. 

About Hill’s Pet Nutrition 
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. manufactures Hill’s® Prescription Diet® brand pet foods, therapeutic pet foods available only through veterinarians, and Hill’s® Science Diet® brand pet foods sold through veterinarians and finer pet specialty stores. Founded more than 60 years ago with a unique commitment to pet nutrition and well-being, Hill’s is committed to its mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets. Hill’s produces high-quality, great-tasting pet foods owners can trust and give to their canine and feline companions as part of a veterinary health care team recommendation. This ultimately improves patient health and the health of the practice. For more information about Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. and Hill’s Evidence-Based Clinical Nutrition™ visit, follow us on Twitter or visit us on Facebook keywords “Hill’s Pet Nutrition.” 



I was not compensated for this post. I have featured Trupanion and Hill’s in the past and was happy to do so again. I believe in sharing information that might be of value to my readers.

Meet Morris Animal Inn, A Guest Blog By Debora Montgomery

While traveling around the internet one day my Mom came across a place for doggies to stay when their parents are away that sounded so interesting! Mom checked out their website and loved what she saw and asked if they would be interested in being a guest blogger and they agreed! We are thrilled and happy to feature Morris Animal Inn! Debora’s guest blog is below:

Morris Animal Inn is a luxury pet resort located in Morristown, NJ.
Your pet gets individualized attention and lots of care from experienced, dedicated staff. Family owned since 1960,
Morris Animal Inn has been passed down through three generations of pet owners who have shared a passion for enhancing dogs’ and cats’ quality of life. Walter and Marianne Morris invite you to visit Morris Animal Inn to see for yourself why it has been a favorite among pet lovers for over 50 years. It is a home away from home for your dogs and cats.

At Morris Animal Inn, we strive to make your pet’s stay with us a healthy and happy one. Here are our top six tips for making this transition the best it can possibly be for your pet.

1) Consider scheduling some daycare appointments prior to taking a long trip. Bringing your pets to us for short stays prior to an extended period of time will help them adjust to the staff and the Inn. The next time they are here, the adjustment period will be minimized.

2) Feed your dog a light meal in the morning. A full stomach is not always the best idea when bringing them in for lodging, especially if they are high-energy. All the excitement of a trip in the car may upset their stomachs.

3) Try to keep suitcases out of sight. Many pets associate suitcases with you leaving them rather than a fun lodging experience that awaits them!

4) Don’t change your routine on the day you plan to bring your pet to us. If a dog is used to a certain way of doing things, changing it can make him or her stressed and anxious.

5) Bringing your dog to us on a leash is very important. This will not only help you to control and protect your pet, it will give them their own space to adjust to the new surroundings.

6) Give a relaxed and confident goodbye. If you are anxious and emotional in the lobby, your pet will feed off that energy. A quick and cheerful “Bye, Rover…see you next week!” and a scratch behind the ears is much better than a drawn-out exit accompanied by tears or hesitation.

Rest assured that while your dog lodges with us they will be treated to the finest accommodations and a number of activities that can be added to their daily schedule in order to keep them active, occupied and happy. If your dog enjoys playing with others he/she can join group play activities in our group yards. For water loving dogs, our aqua center is available for private and group swims while our whirlpool soothes tired muscles. Your dog can also enjoy scenic walks on our nature trail.

Our dog boarding accommodations include comfortable areas for small breeds and spacious suites for our larger guests. Each dog will have access to a well-maintained sleeping, exercise and elimination area.

The Inn’s dog boarding wing offers our canine visitors plush lambs’ wool bedding in their sleeping area. All bedding is freshly laundered each day.

For our guests who would like a little extra pampering Premium Beds are available. This popular dog boarding option is a great choice for our visitors with tender joints and muscles or simply those of you wishing to treat your pet to a more luxurious stay.

We treat every pet, as if they were our own!



Watch the video below to view one of our activities we have available


For more information about the amenities at Morris Animal Inn, visit

Safe Paw Melts Ice: No Harm to Kids and Pets- A Guest Blog By Kim Clune Of “This One Wild Life”

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN- Some weeks  months ago we were presented with the opportunity of reviewing Safe Paw Ice Melter.  A safe alternative to remove ice and snow?  We eagerly agreed. Living in Michigan I was certain this product would be put to good use. Plenty of ice and snow? No problem! WRONG! This year we are having an unseasonably mild winter which up until about 2 hours ago wasn’t providing us with ANY SNOW  significant enough to warrant the use of a SHOVEL let alone a de-icer!

I kept postponing the review because I wanted to be sure to give you an honest assessment of this product. I was CERTAIN that we would have a decent accumulation of snow by January. WRONG AGAIN!

I was frantic! What was I going to do? Then I remembered reading a few reviews that other bloggers had done for Safe Paw and in my opinion Kim Clune of “This One Wild Life” wrote the BEST and MOST THOROUGH  review  I had seen, bar none!

 Being a follower of Kim’s blog/website for quite some time,  and  being an admirer of her superior writing ability, I emailed her asking her if there was any way at all that I could use her  review for my readers. I am deeply honored and eternally grateful that she so graciously agreed!  Today I am PROUD to present to you Kim Clune’s  review of Safe Paws! which was originally featured on This One Wild Life  on November 16, 2011…ironically I was the FIRST person to leave a comment that day!  Now, on to Kim’s review!


Snow came early this year for many US residents. We’ve had more than a foot already, in October! We shored up the roof’s heat cable, pulled out the snow shovels and we’re still working on getting the snow blower going, but the easiest task is stocking up on ice melt.


There’s a safe product we’ve been using for several years now, sparing us salty dogs. It’s called Safe Paw and it’s been a safe ice-melt bet since 1996. Have you heard of it? Did you even know it mattered? If not, you aren’t alone. According to Safe Paw:

“A national survey of more than 500 consumers living in cold weather states showed that an alarming nearly two-thirds of the respondents (62% total; 66% of men) were not aware that salt and salt-based ice melting products pose a health danger to pets and children who digest or come into contact with these products. The survey also revealed that 60% of the respondents said they use rock salt or salt-based ice melters in their households.”



Salt and its residue is a corrosive compound that can damage the tender flesh between your pets’ toes, not to mention lawns and plants. It can contaminate well water and water supplies too. Even brick pavers, stones, asphalt, concrete and wood decking aren’t safe from severe damage and permanent discoloration. When tracked across rugs, carpets, and wood floors, it not only damages these items too, but it pesters your pets and children inside as well.


Safe Paw not only makes your walkways walkable, it is pet and child safe and environmentally sound. According to Safe Paw’s FAQ:

“Safe Paw works just as good or even better than salt or salt-based products. In fact, Safe Paw begins working immediately to penetrate ice while other ice melters work very slowly. Moreover, most salt-based products melt ice only down to 24 degrees, while Safe Paw works up to 2 degrees below zero. Safe Paw also leaves an invisible protective shield that prevents ice from sticking to the surface for up to three days. This makes shoveling easier and saves work.”

Learn more about how it works at


Don’t just take my word for this blue-green gold, or my dogs’, or even Safe Paws’. Safe Paw is the only established national brand of pet and child safe ice melter to receive the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval and is recommended and used by most veterinarians throughout the U.S.. Safe Paw was honored in the 2011 “Whole Green Earth Catalogue” and has been awarded the “Green Seal” by the Parents Advisory Council too.

Steven Greenwald, founder of Safe Paw, explains:

“In 1994, the buzz word became environmental safety. Customers began asking us for an ice melter that was not only environmentally safe, but guaranteed to be safe around children and pets at the same time. Although Safe Paw is used around the home and in the pet market, it’s also used by cruise ships, the U.S. government in the National Complex in Washington, D.C., the New Jersey and Chicago Transit systems, Helipads and many dog parks and zoos throughout the U.S.”


Safe Paw is sold at most major pet stores including PetSmart and at many online stores, grocery shops and national retail chains including Costco. (Don’t be fooled by imitation brands.) Price varies by retail outlet. Cost is generally $14.95 – $19.95 for the 8 lb jug and $50 to $60 for the 35 lb pail.

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN: THANK YOU Kim for providing this excellent review! 


(I KNOW that you DO!)


Kim’s Blogs:


Meet “The Pet Loo” A Guest Blog By Tobi Skovron, CEO and Founder of The Pet Loo


Designed & developed in Australia in 2003 available worldwide as of 2006, The Pet Loo is your backyard in a box – A very clever solution for all your animal’s toilet problems.

  •   Forget those early morning toilet runs
  •   Say goodbye to those toilet walks in the rain
  •   Farewell to those stains on the carpet

Keep your feet up and enjoy having a pet as part of your lifestyle while The Pet Loo takes care of the toilet problems for you.

This innovative lawn toilet will contain your pet’s waste in one designated area and will ensure your peace of mind on those extended stays out of the home. Should you live in an apartment or a house, take your dog to the office or simply want to leave those toilet training headaches behind, The Pet Loo is a hygienic, convenient, simple and an environmentally friendly way to allow your pet the freedom to do its business without relying on you for an opportunity.

The Pet Loo has a uniquely patented draining system and is a pioneer in the category of Pet Toileting. Whilst other potties are as basic as a piece of grass rested on a flat plastic base – The Pet Loo has a base that is slightly angled to assist gravity in the catchment of urine. It has been reinforced specifically to support the weight of an animal and is shaped to channel the urine towards the collection jug. It is unmatchable in its design, structure, features and benefits as before launch the team behind Pet Loo protected their ideas with the registration of strong intellectual property.

They didn’t stop there; The Pet Loo has a range of value add products to make life even easier for pets and pet owners.

Train your Pet with “Skip To My Loo”

A unique attractant that has been designed to attract and encourage your dog, puppy or kitten to relieve itself in an area designated by you.

Absorb the waste with “Pee-Pods”

The revolutionary Pee-Pod is a biodegradable container that fits neatly inside the catchment jug of The Pet Loo. When Wee Sponge (powder) comes into contact with liquid waste it rapidly absorbs the urine and turns it into a solidified gel, also trapping any airborne odors. 

Clean The Loo with “Wee Care”

WEE Care is the original Pet Loo Cleaner!

It is the only recommended cleaner for The Pet Loo and works to eliminate odors and soiling. 
The natural actions of enzymes leave no by-products behind which would attract dirt and bacteria. Leaving The Pet Loo free from problem causing organic contaminants and residue.

If & When you need – Replacement Pet Loo grass is also available

The team behind Pet Loo are highly passionate about pets and care about the world they live in.

With the success they’re having they never forget where they have come from along with the foundations on which they started this business – the drive to increase pet ownership, decrease pet surrenders, and promote the amazing benefits of animal companionship for people of all circumstances.

Their intention is to ensure that The Pet Loo brand not only solves pet owners’ toileting needs but also donates portions of profits to support pet shelters, charities, pets in need, and causes related to animal welfare.

Do you have a question about The Pet Loo?

Have a look at their Frequently Asked Questions and see if we have an answer. You can also get social with Pet Loo on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube:



To purchase The Pet Loo, which ranges in price from $99-$149, visit its online store at,

ABOUT TOBI SKOVRON,  CEO and Founder of The Pet Loo:


At the tender age of 23, Tobi Skovron,  (a  self-confessed go-getter from Melbourne, Australia),  literally came up with The Pet Loo business after standing in the pouring rain with his dog, wishing there was an easier way for him and other apartment dwellers with pets to take their dogs to the bathroom, otherwise known as the “loo.”

That soggy day was the catalyst that sparked an impressive entrepreneurial fire, with Skovron inventing The Pet Loo, a 100% chemical-free, odorless synthetic backyard in a box that can fit comfortably inside a person’s home, apartment, boat, RV or other small or limited dwelling.  The Pet Loo is the only product that uses a uniquely patented drainage system that lets your pet do its business without having to go outside. If cleaned properly, the Pet Loo’s grass only needs to be replaced as needed, a drastic difference from many of his competitors who sell disposable products that last merely a month or two


From Dakota’s Den: In full disclosure we have not used this product but agreed to feature it because we thought that  it would be useful and  of interest  to many people, and we think that  a number of people will  be interested in trying it!  We received no compensation for Pet Loo appearing on our blog.

Happy Holidays From Us, To YOU!!!

Mom, my brother Cody and I would like  to take a moment to wish ALL OF YOU the HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS!  We hope that whatever you celebrate, you have your loved ones around you,  lots of toys to play with, good food to eat and good health to last you a lifetime!!

We are grateful for each and every one of you and we look forward to more fun times with you in 2012!!!

Barks, licks, love and HOLIDAY CHEER!!!!

Dakota, my brother Cody  and “Mom”

We are particularly grateful to Rosie, the beautiful, brilliant, talented and loving daughter of Priscilla from one of our favorite blogs:


(please click on the above link to check out their blog)

for creating our GORGEOUS

holiday card!!!

If you would like to enlist the graphic design services

of Rosie, you may find her HERE

FROM ROSIE: My name is Rosie and I am a freelance designer and a learning photographer. I started creating photo montages of my sheltie, Eva, during my free time as a hobby. I then went on to creating more banners for my good friends, and now it has turned into a small business.

I am self-taught and still learning, but I hope you enjoy my designs and please contact me if you are interested in having one.

Photo Montages are for everybody! Although most of my clients are breeders to advertise their kennels and successful dogs, I also create montages for pet owners and dogs that have gone to the rainbow bridge. Photo montages are very useful when advertising a litter, a stud dog, or a great win!

I have created many banners and website headers with all happy clients. I hope you will be one of them!

Thank you Rosie!!! We love YOU!!!!!!!

Caren, Dakota and Cody

Advice And Fashion Blogger Also Loves Dogs!

I am thrilled to introduce all of you to Ellen Ross who is a  wonderful and wise-beyond-her-years young woman who I met through reading her interesting and relevant blog Ask Away.    One of many things that I love about blogging is that I  get to meet and grow to know so many different types of people…  just through reading their blogs. Through reading Ellen’s blog and getting to know her better, I discovered that she is a HUGE dog lover and is a “Doggie Mama” herself!

Ellen and her babies!

I was thrilled and honored that she agreed to do a guest post today! Enjoy!

I was just 19 when I got my first dog of my very own, my 6-year-old Chihuahua Pixie!  2 years later I got Grace, and most recently, I got Stella.  These 3 girls are the loves of my life!!  I always knew a lot about pets and animals, even as a young kid, but I acquire more and more knowledge everyday and I love sharing it with people.  So I was so ecstatic to begin answering reader’s pet questions on my advice (and fashion) blog Ask Away.   As with any topic of advice, I give a 100% honest suggestion from a totally neutral standpoint.

Here are some previous questions I’ve received for my blog:, and my responses!

Housebreaking Issues

Hi Ellen,


I know that I wrote to you once before for your advice regarding my aggressive Chihuahua.  Now I’d like to ask your opinion on a different issue…house training.  We have had Daisy since last Memorial Day.  She is a little over 1-year-old.  However, she is not house trained.  It is becoming quite annoying when I constantly have to pick up after her.  She also urinates on our small kitchen throw rugs constantly.  With a 1-year-old learning to walk in the house, I do not want him to be exposed to feces and dog urine like that.  We have tried and tried to teach her and really don’t have the money right now to hire someone to personally come to the house.  The biggest problem of all is that we are going to try to get pregnant again this Fall and I do not want to bring another child into this house without her being house trained.  How long did it take you to train your Chihuahuas?  Do they use puppy pads or go outside?  Any advice that you can offer would be SO helpful!




Dear anonymous:

All three of my Chihuahuas are potty trained.  They go on puppy pads (and outside, if we are out there) and are very good with it now.  Pixie came trained from the breeder so there were very few accidents.  Grace learned overtime from me and by about 7 or 8 months she was doing almost perfect. Stella was the hardest.  With multiple dog households, I know there are some territorial issues and sometimes something is purposely done to mark territory (like, literally, right next to the puppy pad LOL).  Patience is the best thing.  It took Stella a couple of months after her 1 year Birthday till she was 100% trained. She still has slip ups.  Weird thing is, when we are somewhere else, she does fine, but at my place, sometimes she’ll slip up.  If your Chi goes in the same spot when she has accidents, you may need to clean the carpet really well so the odor doesn’t entice her. Recently I found this stuff called Kids N Pets cleaner (you can find it at Wal-Mart) and for $5 a bottle it gets stains and odors out that NOTHING else would.  I 100% guarantee you that.  Also, try limiting water to in the morning with breakfast, and then in the evening with dinner. I always put their water bowl up after about 7pm, so that if there’s an accident, it’ll be when I’m awake, not overnight.  That way, I can discipline and correct.  When I caught Stella in the act, I would scold her right away by saying NO!  and then I would quickly place her on her pad and say ON PAD.  If I happened to catch her going on the pad I made a HUGE deal about this! My neighbors probably thought I was crazy!  And sometimes when I would notice Stella coming out of the puppy pad area, and then I saw a “mess” on it, I realized it was hers, I’d quickly grab her and run back to the pads and point to them and say GOOD GIRL ON PAD!!!!!  She would wag her tail and spin in circles and was so happy. Rewarding is everything.  They need to know what to do, and when they do it right.  If you know Daisy normally goes after she eats, hang around so you can catch her to see if she goes on the pads or not.  A good idea is always to check out a Chihuahua forum online and ask for advice because you can find all sorts of creative tips. Good luck!



Getting a New Puppy Used to Being on It’s Own

Dear Ellen-

We just got a beagle puppy and I don’t want her to end up having anxiety issues if we leave her at home. We live in a townhouse so I don’t want to bother my neighbors.  Since I want to start young, what are your tips for helping get a puppy used to being on it’s own.

Dear Shelly:
Don’t ever give in. It’s very important that if she cries now you don’t give in.  If you are keeping her in a gated area or a crate when you aren’t home, that’s a great start.  Start now by leaving the room, listening to her cry and NOT RESPONDING.  After a few minutes, she should give up.  Once she is quiet, then you can get her.  Do this at night also when you go to bed. I know you will probably be worried about her keeping you up, but her whimpers will only last for ten minutes or so.  If you start having issues with this, you may want to sign her up for Puppy Training at a local pet store. Also, checking out online resources with other beagle owners is a great start!
Good luck and Congrats on your new addition!


Ellen's Pups

Doggy Dilemma when Choosing a Breed


Hi Ellen,

 I really enjoy reading your blog and it sounds like you have been a pet lover for most of your life so I hope you can give me some advice.  I never grew up with any animals but I have always loved Golden Retrievers from afar.  My husband had a border collie as a child and although he likes dogs, he thinks it’s a lot of work.  We have 2 boys, ages 5 and 3 and for some reason my older son has a fear of dogs and we have no idea where it comes from.  He’s never been bitten by a dog or even been barked at that I can remember.  My younger son was really comfortable with dogs when he was little but I think he’s now copying his older brother because if they even see a dog, you’d think someone was coming after them with an axe or something by the sheer terror in their little faces.

 During the summer, we went to a fair and they have a show called the “Superdogs” and afterwards they welcome the audience to go down and meet the dogs and their owners.  To my amazement, both of my boys wanted to go and meet the dogs and actually petted some of them.  They were so proud of themselves so it gave me hope that maybe we can get a Golden Retriever but my son has said that he doesn’t like big dogs or puppies that will become big dogs.

 I don’t really know too much about smaller dogs and I’m guilty of thinking smaller dogs are ‘yappy’ so I apologize to dog owners everywhere for that assumption.  Can you educate me and advise what breeds of small dogs are good with kids, not yappy and loud?  Are there dogs that don’t shed as much?

 Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.




Dear Ally:

Starting with a smaller breed is probably a better idea.  I for one, am proof that not all small dogs, especially Chihuahuas, are yappy.  It all depends on the individual dog.  Also, barking is a behavior that can be corrected depending on the circumstance.

In regards to which breed would be best, I did some research on the internet and judging by your other needs, here is what I came up with.

The Brittany Spaniel is a medium size dog of thinner build.  The breed is easy to train and very sensitive, which is good.
I also found the Bichon Frise to be suitable for children.  These dogs don’t shed because they have hair instead of fur.  They are a small breed and when trained like any other dog, aren’t “yappy”.

I also found the Cocker Spaniel and Beagle on the list.  You should do some more research on all of those breeds.  They are also a decent size.

No matter what breed you may decide on, it is a very good idea to sign your dog up for obedience school when you can.  Also, your entire family should attend so you can learn everything together.  I also think that may help your son get more comfortable with dogs.  Petsmart and Petco also offer reasonably priced training.  My one Chihuahua Grace took classes at Petsmart and graduated last year!

If you decide to get your dog through a breeder, you can ask the breeder if she can help match you up with the perfect individual dog for your family’s needs.

I also wanted to say, I noticed the Golden Retriever is the ideal dog for children.  I know of many cases of people I know that had a major fear of dogs that went away eventually.  Most of those people have big dogs now.  Maybe if you do start with a puppy, and your son builds a relationship, he will not fear it when it gets older.  You could also ask a breeder of Golden Retrievers what she advises.  I think Goldens are amazing dogs so if you really are interested in that breed (and from our emails back and forth it seems you are) you should go for it.

Thank you for your question and please let me know how everything goes!


Follow Up!  Ally ended up using my tips and resources, and she adopted a new lab for her family!! She has sent me many pics and updates!


And if you ever have a question, feel free to drop me a line via email at, or fill out this form! 



Holiday Hazards To Watch For: Protect Your Dogs! A Guest Blog by Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital


It’s a wonderful time of year, full of fun, festive decorations, family and your canine family members as well! But this can also be a dangerous time of year for dogs. While it is an urban myth that Poinsettia are the most dangerous holiday item for dogs, there are actually many more toxic holiday hazards you need to watch for. The emergency veterinarians at VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital ( share with us one case and then the top things for you to keep an eye on in your holiday home.




Nicholas is a Bernese Mountain dog and you see his two x-rays after ending up in the E.R. at VRCC.  He ate about 15 feet of Christmas garland, which you can see on the x-ray in the light area under the ribs and to the right of the spine.  The garland was removed using an endoscope, snaking the scope down the mouth and esophagus so the garland could be grasped with a special tool and removed from the stomach. Nicholas was uncomfortable for a few days while his esophagus and stomach healed up, but he recovered and is doing fine.


Other holiday hazards for dogs include:


  • Spray on snow/flocking, foil, plastic wrap/shrink-wrap, Styrofoam peanuts.
  • XMAS Tree Food/Preservatives: If you are using a real tree in a plant stand, cut off access to the stand with a heavy tree skirt. Veterinarians at VRCC say sugar-based tree preservatives and tree food/water can harbor dangerous bacteria and a thirsty dog may decide to use the tree stand as a drinking bowl.
  • Batteries: It may be great to have batteries for that new, cool toy but chewing or swallowing batteries is extremely toxic. Acid burns from chewing and causing a leak in the battery are common as well as cuts from the metal casing.
  • Potpourri: The spicy smell can fill the house with a wonderful scent, but dogs can experience irritation and corrosion of the eyes, mouth, throat and esophagus if exposed to the liquid form.

Hopefully, these valuable emergency room tips from VRCC will help keep you and your entire family safe and happy this holiday season.