Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pixel's Top 5 Valentine's Day Tips for Showing Parents You Love Them

I'm sure you'll agree that most all pet parents go above and beyond to show their beloved pets just how much they are loved and cherished. There's so many little and big things that Mommy does for me on a daily basis that I wouldn't even know where to start. I am one lucky and blessed little girl! Pets spend their lives giving unconditional love from our hearts because that's just who we are, but there are some additional things we can do to give little joys and added smiles to our parents hearts and faces. So on this Valentine's Day, I wanted to share just a few of the things I do to show Mommy that I care and that I really love her.
1. Help Out Around the House

I think it's important to help with basic chores whenever possible. There's lots of little things that a dog can do around the house to be useful and help make it a little easier for Mom or Dad.
For example, pre-washing the dishes makes it easier for a quick soap and water wash of plates and spoons.
Something else you could do around the house is to pick up your toys after playing with them and put them away to help prevent tripping. I like to pile all mine up in the middle of the kitchen so they aren't in the hallway walk area.
Another very helpful thing you can do around the house is to tear up cardboard and paper products that must go into the trash. Large paper plates, cereal boxes, kleenex boxes and soda can boxes are just a few of the things I like to break down for Mommy so she doesn't have to deal with that tiresome chore. It's the least I can do.
2. Make Sure They Get Play Breaks
 Parents work very hard, and they often don't take the time to play when they should. It's up to us to ensure they don't work too hard and get the proper mental and physical breaks when needed, whether they work from home, are working on a home project, or are just doing daily chores.
If I think Mommy's been working too long or too hard, I'll start by providing a little comedic relief in the form of some silly smiles and a forced belly rub.  Then I might jump up and turn back looking at her as if to say, "Come with me, let's go find a toy to shake for a few!" If that doesn't work, I'll bring the toy to her and drop it right on her laptop. You just have to gauge the situation and adjust your tactics as the need arises.
3. Share Your Food With Them
Nothing says, "I love you" more than sharing your food with the one you love. Mommy absolutely adores this particular look on my face. So what I love to do is save her some of my pumpkin blueberry banana oatmeal breakfast cereal on my chin like so (see photo), then I'll seek her out in the house and give her this look. She gets all mushy inside and will pretty much drop everything to share the sweetest puppy kisses with me. It's the most loving experience for both of us!

4. Give A Surprise Foot Massage
It might not be for every pet parent, but I've been doing this for Mommy for years. I just go up to her when she has socks on and paw her feet gently with one of my paws. It's very relaxing for us both.
5. Master a Trick or Command That's Been a Challenge
This is something that will make your Mommy or Daddy so immensely happy because they will not expect it at all. You, however, should expect lots of high pitch praise, affection, treats possibly and other accolades for being such a good little one. My latest surprise mastering was being successful at a drive in window. I like to bark at any and all drive through windows, even the ones that give out food. I don't know why...I just do. Even after 8 years, I still have a hard time of it sometimes, even with Mommy's consistent guidance. Well, one day recently, we went through a particular drive-thru that I always bark in and I only had to be corrected once. Then I was a super quiet Pixel! OH my goodness, Mommy was so super duper happy with me, and thrilled. My success really told her I loved her very much and it made her feel so good!
These are just a few ways that pets can show their parents that they are special and loved. Never forget the tried and true hugs, kisses, snuggles and wuzzles, but always try new and inventive ways to show them how much you love and adore them. Happy Valentine's Day!
Read about 10 fun things you can do for your pet to show YOUR love in last year's Valentine's blog post entitled "The Joy of Love - Pixel Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day with Your Pet".

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pixel Blue Eyes - Puppy Bowl Special Report and Carolina Panthers Fan Forever

Well, Super Bowl 50 is over, and so is my beloved Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. I had fun yesterday watching and rewatching the plays by all the exciting players at both games. I just want to say, that no matter who won, and who walked away with their ears held low, I am proud of every single one of you. You gave it your all, all season, and look at how far you got! You made it to the biggest game of the year. And I'm so proud of you!!! You MUST be proud of yourself! Remember, just because you don't carry the trophy, doesn't mean you're still not a winner. You tried your best and that's all any of us can do. Never give up, whether you win or lose. I think we all can carry that truth with us no matter the circumstance in life.
And having said that, Mommy and I just want to say that we always have been and always will be Carolina Panthers fans, now and forever! You don't have to win a prize for us to be faithful to you.
Now, regarding the Puppy Bowl, as you can see, I've got at least half a team already in my family with my sisters Sassy, Bella, Dixie Mae and Peanut. We have a great time playing and running around together so we had a GREAT time watching it on TV yesterday. I'd like to share something that hits close to home about this year's Puppy Bowl.
One of the puppies, Charlie, a 16 week old male Feist/Whippet mix, who played in the first quarter for Team Fluff, was from City Dogs Rescue out of Washington DC, a rescue that Mommy has worked closely with. Great job out there Charlie!! Nice footwork and fantastic teamwork.
Here's a special story done by the Wall Street Journal done about Charlie and City Dogs Rescue. The rescue representative being interviewed, Amy Bandyk, is a friend of Mommy's, and loves the dogs very much!

Image of Mommy Jenny with Smyth County Animal Shelter Volunteers and City Dogs Rescue team
Jenny with Animal Control Officer Kristy (pet photo partner)
Smyth County Animal Shelter Volunteers and
City Dogs Rescue Team
City Dogs is one of the very first rescues that Mommy (Jenny)  got associated with through her work doing pet portraits for the Smyth County Animal Shelter. They were one of the first rescues that started a partnership with the shelter to pull some of the homeless dogs, foster and spay/neuter them, and then find them an amazing home. Mommy's photos of the dogs that she took while working with Officer and friend Kristy Moore at the shelter helped them first find the shelter! So it was really neat to see City Dogs represented in the national Puppy Bowl! City Dogs Rescue has helped rescue hundreds of unwanted dogs and puppies from just our one shelter alone in the last 2 years. And they do amazing work like give each dog training and follow up on the homes and pups for months after they are adopted. Yet another winner!!
So, did YOU watch either the Puppy Bowl 2016 or Super Bowl 50? How about the Kitty Bowl? I didn't get to watch that one... Who did you root for? What are you thoughts on all of this? I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Adventures in Snacking: Pixel's Top 5 Dog Super Bowl 50 Pawty Snacks

Super Bowl 50 Sunday is today, which means that the ever so fun Puppy Bowl 2016 is playing (and replaying) on TV, so no matter who you are, there's lots of exciting action to watch on television and the internet. Whether you will be attending a party, throwing a party or just hanging out with your friends and family at the house, there will be loads of snacks and fun foods for the humans, but what about the dogs? You'll want to have some fun snacks on hand for the dogs too, right?
Do not fret if you hadn't thought about it. Help is here. I have some wonderful and simple dog snack and beverage ideas you can do for your beloved canine companions that they will simply love.
Peanut Butter covered Rice Chex 
This treat is super easy to fix.
1. Lay out individual pieces of Gluten Free Rice Chex pieces on a tray or large plate.
2. Using a butter knife, spread small amounts of peanut butter on each little piece of Rice Chex.
Voila! Instant super fun snack for your dog that is absolutely delicious!
Chicken and Rice Pate
Ingredients:  1 lb. Cooked Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts cooled
                     1 c. Cooked White or Brown Rice cooled (slightly warm) NOT cold
                     3 Tbsp. Instant Baby Oatmeal Cereal (Optional) for extra smoothness
                     1.5 - 2 c. Filtered or Spring Water
 1. Grind the chicken in a food processor until finely chopped
2.  Add 1 cup rice (and the 3 Tbsp. of baby oatmeal if you have it) into food processor
3.  Add 1 cup of water into food processor
4.  Place lid on top and grind all ingredients together
5. As it is grinding, add the additional half to one extra cup of water until you have a nice chicken and rice paste/pate that you could put on a cracker.
Keep refrigerated.
You will know it's done when you can scoop up some in a spoon and your face when you taste it.
Now, with this chicken and rice pate, you can do anything you like! Scoop it with biscuits, use as dip with Rice Chex, or form it into cute shapes like footballs, bones, flowers or other shapes.
If you create shapes, you can then use baby food puree squeezies like icing and create all sorts of fun designs and patterns. See the photos below as an example of one fun idea we did using Banana, Beets, and Blueberry puree for the flower color and Green Bean puree as the flower stem! It was DELICIOUS!!!

Sweet Potato Wedges
Super Easy and OH SO GOOD!!
Ingredients:  2 - 4 Sweet Potatoes
1.  Peel sweet potatoes 
2.  Cut potatoes into little bite-size pieces about 1 inch wide or larger (depending on dog size)
3. Place in microwaveable bowl and cover with either a paper plate, plastic wrap or a vented lid.
4. Microwave until fully cooked, checking every 3-4 minutes.
5. Once cooled, serve as doggie hors d'oeuvres or treats!
Chicken Broth Water
Low sodium , fat free Chicken Broth
Filtered or Spring Water
1. Mix half chicken broth and half water in one or more bowls, and share away!
Fruity Water
Baby Squeezable Fruit Packets, such as Bananas, Beets & Blueberries by Happy Baby, Strawberry/Apple, or any flavor that sounds good
Filtered or Spring Water
Mix 1/3 fruit puree and 2/3 water in one or more will appear lumpy at first, just mix with a spoon or finger until smooth
Share and enjoy!
NOTE:  Normally, Mommy only lets me drink about 1/4 cup at a time of any kind of mixed/flavored water, because it's so good, I'll drink too much and get bloated. So keep that in mind for both the broth and fruity water with your dog.
These are favorites in my house any day of the week, for dog parties, weekend TV watching or picnics. So have fun and let me know which ones sound good to you! Also, I'd love to hear if you watched the Puppy Bowl or Super Bowl. Which team is your favorite??

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Joy of Sisters: Our First Group Photo

It's tough getting 5 little dogs grouped together...much less to all look at the camera at once. Mommy finally had success! So here we all are: Sassy, Bella, Pixel, Dixie and Peanut.