Dublin, the Therapy Dog!

You know you are a #nerdybookclub member when even your dog loves to read.

Yes, you read that right.  My 3-year old Australian Shepherd is an avid reader.  He is especially fond of picture books and early readers.  Some of Dublin’s favorite books include Harry the Dirty Dog, Henry the Dog with No Tail, and City Dog, Country Frog. He’d rather not read about cats, but he’ll listen if that’s what his friends want to read.

Check out my guest post on the Nerdy Book Club blog, where I explain what it’s like to be a therapy dog handler.  Dublin loves his therapy dog visits and I do, too!



August Barkbox Review

The middle of the month is very popular around here.  Sometime around the 15th of the month, our Barkbox arrives!  The Aussies know when it’s here, because unlike the other boxes that arrive on our porch this one always smells like treats.  As soon as I bring the box into the house the Aussies are following me around, herding me into the family room so I can open it.

This month’s box was another hit!

Checking out the goodies!

This month’s box was awesome!  The first item out of the box and quickly out of the packaging was the Hyper Pet™ Flying Series Slingshot Flying Pig.   This is a slingshot toy that can shoot over 100 feet!  We haven’t tried it outside yet, but it certainly flys far in the house!  The Aussies also love the rope toy attached to the pig.  I’m not sure how long the pig will last around here, as it seems ripe for holes from Aussie teeth, but no stuffed toy lasts very long at our house anyway.  This one is a big hit right now, though!

Playing tugs with the flying pig!

The Aussie’s least favorite item in this month’s box was my favorite.  The NATURE’S MIRACLE Freshening Spray for Dogs is like a leave-in conditioner for dogs.  You can use it between baths to keep your dogs smelling fresh and clean.  The Aussies are not big fans of taking baths and they tend to dislike anything that represents bath time. However, I can’t wait to use this to keep them smelling fresh and clean!

This box also included a moose antler from Acadia Antlers! Dublin and Bailey LOVE LOVE LOVE antlers.  We have deer antlers and elk antlers laying all over the house.  I haven’t given them the Acadia Antler yet because we only have one and that won’t go over very well. As soon as I have another moose antler they will be thrilled to chew away on them. Antlers are awesome because they last forever, they don’t break, and the marrow is delicious (to the dogs)!  They also don’t smell and don’t stain, which makes this owner quite happy.  Plus, they are a renewable resource, as they are collected after the deer, elk, or moose drops them each year.

Finally, we got two bags of treats this time.  First, we got a sample of Milkbone’s new Trail Mix for Dogs.  The Aussies tore through that and it’s already gone!  But the best treat is the Bocce’s Bakery Elvis, a banana, peanut butter, and turkey bacon treat.  The Aussies sniffed that out immediately and I think they would have eaten the whole bag right then if I let them.  But we are trying to ration the delicious treats!  Just a few each day.  🙂

Once again, Barkbox hits it out of the park!  I enjoy each month’s offerings almost as much as the Aussies do!

Click here to order your own subscription.  (You get $5 off and I earn a free month!)

*I was not paid for this review in any way. I stumbled upon Barkbox while reading another blog back in April and subscribed almost immediately.  Opinions are my own! 

Dog Days of Summer- L’Oreal’s Because Your Dog is Worth It, Too!

One of our favorite days of the year is L’Oreal’s Because Your Dog is Worth It, Too.  An annual event held in Cranbury, NJ,  it raises money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  As of 2010, over $500,000 had been raised towards finding a cure for  breast cancer. It’s a wonderful event, put on entirely by volunteers at L’Oreal, in honor of their co-workers who were some of the millions of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Thousands of humans and dogs attend the event, which houses hundreds of pet vendors.  The vendors have samples and sell lots of doggie items.  There are rescue groups, pet food companies, trainers, doggie daycares, pet stores, apparel companies, and anyone else you can think of!

Today we attended Because Your Dog is Worth It, Too for the fourth year in a row and it was the best year yet! It was raining when we woke up and when we jumped in the car, but a little rain never stopped the Aussome Aussies!  In fact, I think they prefer the mud!  Plus, the cloudy weather meant it wouldn’t be as hot as it normally is at the event.  We lucked out, and when we pulled into the parking lot (where we got the closest spot ever, thanks to the inclement weather!) the sun came out!  The weather cleared, the mud was negligible, and there was no humidity all day.  It was absolutely perfect!

We spent almost five hours at the event and it was aussome, as always.  We came home with lots of free pet food samples, which Dublin and Bailey love, and we made some purchases.  We are so looking forward to receiving our Doodie Packs, which will be embroidered with the dogs’ names.  Plus, they will be hunter orange, so they are perfect for hiking during hunting season! No big box manufacturer here- Kristin Elliott, the inventor, took the time to measure both Aussies and make sure they got the perfect backpack.  It should arrive in 2 weeks or so and we can’t wait!

The dogs loved all of the attention they got throughout the day, plus they got a chance to swim in some of the many doggie pools set up by the volunteers at L’Oreal.  Bailey and Dublin met lots of people and received a lot of “oohs” and “aahs”.  A blue merle and red merle Aussie always attract a lot of attention because they don’t have the typical dog coloring, so when they are together it’s a double-whammy!  Plus, we met tons of other Aussies, too!  The Aussome Aussies met and loved a mini Aussie named Willow, a stock dog named Skye, and a few others.  Plus, we ran into Finnegan, an Aussie boy we met least year when he was a puppy!  He grew up a lot!

I want to thank all of the volunteers at L’Oreal who did such a fantastic job today.  They dealt with the inclement weather, the parking issues, the thousands of people and dogs, and all of the logistics of holding an event of this size.  They were all gracious, helpful, and chatty when we were walking around.  They do an amazing job!

Some pictures from today:

Dublin and a few other Furry Angels Therapy Dogs!

Checking out the big pool!

A mini Aussie friend!

dock diving!

Taking a break under the Tumbleweed & Eddie’s tent! The Aussome Aussies were recognized by the very nice Tumbleweed and Eddie’s people!

It’s important to stay hydrated!

She loves bubbles!


more swimming!

She froze and couldn’t climb the stairs to get out. After 10 minutes, Chris had to lift her out.

very tired on the way home!

Yay for a wonderful day for a wonderful cause!

I Promise He’s Not Cujo!

Dublin thinks he owns the neighborhood, which definitely gets us a lot of attention on walks.  Apparently this isn’t uncommon with Australian Shepherds, who were bred to keep an eye on their flock and their people.  They have a good guardian instinct, which can be problematic when they decide the neighborhood belongs to them.  Dublin is leash-reactive, but 99% of the time it’s only in our neighborhood.  He’s been socialized extensively and still is on an almost daily basis.

But when we walk around the neighborhood and he sees another dog, he pulls at the leash and barks.  “Get out of my neighborhood!” he seems to be saying.  For this reason, I rarely walk the Aussies together in the neighborhood.  As a result, we have walked every trail in a 50 mile radius.  I love this, and so do they, but sometimes it’s nice to walk in our own neighborhood for some quick exercise.

Dublin’s leash reactivity definitely increased when we brought Bailey home last summer.  He barks and lunges, she bites his butt because her herding instinct tells her to do so, and inevitably people move away from us.  Granted, that’s what I want them to do, but it would be nice if they weren’t backing away because it looks or sounds like my dogs are turning into Cujo.

So this summer I made it my mission to work on Dublin’s leash reactivity. I purchased the highly-recommended Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog and read it cover-to-cover.  I highly recommend it if you are dealing with a leash-reactive dog!  I developed a program to use with Dublin, which rewards him for looking at the dogs/bikes/cars that he might bark at.  It’s been a few weeks and I am actually seeing slow, but steady, progress!

Today, we had our best walk around the neighborhood that I can remember!  I am so proud of Dublin and thrilled that my training is working.  We ran into 5 dogs, the landscapers, a stroller, a running toddler, a bike, and numerous walkers.  The only thing that pushed him over his threshold was a pair of dogs that live caddy-corner to us.  For some reason, he hates them and is terrified.  But even with them, he looked at me while he barked and he turned and walked away with me!  For everyone else, he just looked at me and continued walking after getting his reward!  It was amazing!

There’s never a dull moment when you have Australian Shepherds.  They all have their quirks and I am so happy that we are working through Dublin’s “guard the neighborhood!” quirk.



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Dog Day at the Beach

The beach is one of my favorite places, when it isn’t full of tourists.  I grew up five minutes from the beach but you will rarely catch me there during the summer because I can’t take the crowds.  The Jersey shore is gorgeous when the sand is empty and the waves crash onto the snowy beach.

However, I make one exception to the “no beach in the summer rule”.  The dog beach.  We are lucky in NJ that there are a few official (and a a few unofficial) dog beaches that allow dogs to run and play off-leash.  It’s a glorious thing to see a stretch of sand full of romping dogs of all sizes, running in the surf and digging in the sand.  So this weekend we headed down to my in-laws for a day at the dog beach.

Last summer we brought Dublin and Bailey to the same dog beach and Bailey spent the whole time hiding from the water. She walked to the edge of the water and ran away every time it creeped closer to her paws.  Dublin, on the other hand, was and is an old pro.  He races down the beach, trying to catch birds, swims and fetched sticks in the ocean, rides the waves back to the shore, and digs in the sand.  We were hoping that this year he would rub off on Bailey.

Bailey ventured into the water, following Dublin, but raced for the safety of the sand as soon as she saw whitecaps.

As soon as we arrived, 4 adults and three dogs (two Aussies and a Cocker Spaniel), Dublin took off down the beach.  He was in the water almost immediately. Bailey was a little slower to acclimate.  She raced after Dublin and even ventured into the water.  But as soon as a wave came crashing to the shore, she was gone like a rocket.  Colbie, my in-laws’ Cocker Spaniel, was even more hesitant.  She’s very pretty and likes to stay that way, so she would walk along the edge of the water and then head back to the dry sand where she would lay in the sun.

“You’re crazy if you think I’m going out there!”

Dublin, Chris, and I spent a lot of time playing in fetch in the water while Bailey looked on from the shore.  Eventually, she slowly made her way out to chest deep water, waiting for us to make our way to her.  Then, she followed Chris through the water, trying to walk exactly where he walked, as if he was carving a path in the snow.

But then, she did it!  Bailey swims in the pool (with some prodding from me), in the river (with no prodding needed!), and even behaves in the bath.  But the ocean was just too scary until this weekend.  After following us in, watching Dublin swim, and realizing he was getting to play fetch without her, she dove in!

“I can swim, too!”

Bringing both Aussies anywhere together can be stressful, because Bailey is a bit bossy and likes to harass Dublin in public.  She’s a bully and I swear she riles all the other dogs up, telling them to beat up her brother.  I get a little stressed out.  But she has been doing better lately and sometimes she even lets Dublin have fun when we are out together!  I was a little worried about the beach, because I thought she would be jealous of all the swimming Dublin was doing (without her) and would take out her frustrations on him when he got back on dry land.  Thankfully, she didn’t!  She ran after him a few times, they wrestled a little, but she didn’t draw any other dogs into it.  I think that’s a first!  Maybe she is maturing?

My favorite part of the day was that towards the end, a group of people claimed the sand next to us.  They had 2 Bernese Mountain dogs, a terrier mix, and another mixed breed.  Oh, and they brought a volleyball net.  Yes, they thought that they could play volleyball on a dog beach, undisturbed.  I don’t think they spent a lot of time around dogs.  Or maybe none of their dogs were particularly into balls?

Needless to say, they obviously don’t know Bailey.

“Let me play! I’ve been watching Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh this week!”

Spending the day at the beach with the dogs was absolutely fantastic.  They were exhausted when we came home (as were Chris and I!) and had so much fun.  I’ll end this post with a few more photos from the day.

Surfing the waves!

Tons of sticks on the beach, and they both want the same one.

Colbie and Bailey rehydrating



Nothing beats the “real” Jersey Shore.  Dogs, sun, sand, and surf are all you need to relax.  No bars, no clubs, no tanning necessary.  Just a smile, an affinity for fetch, and lots of energy to walk up and down the beach.  No sunning on a towel here!  Oh, and a chair is a good idea, because it’s not unheard of to have a male dog “mark” your beach bag if it’s left on the sand.  Just one of the rituals of the dog beach!