St. Patrick’s Day 2023

𝙄𝙛 𝙖 𝙙𝙤𝙜 𝙞𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙜𝙤

𝙔𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙣𝙪𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙢𝙧𝙤𝙘𝙠𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙬.

Irish lass full of sass ~𝑳𝒊𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒐
When Irish eyes are smiling… they’re usually up to something~𝑯𝒐𝒐𝒄𝒉
Lucky Motha Fluffa ~𝑳𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒓
Who needs luck… I have charm ~𝑾𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒌𝒆𝒚
(Still recovering from TPLO #2 … so we just decorated her Fish Fortress 🐟🏰 as to keep her as calm as possible)
Kiss me, I’m Arfish ~𝑷𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒆𝒓
Zero lucks given ~𝑱𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓
Be your own pot of gold ~𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒏𝒊
Irish Kisses, Shamrock Wishes ~𝑳𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒕 𝑩𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒄

What is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs accompany their owners to volunteer in settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, mental health institutions, schools, hospitals, cancer centers, hospice facilities, and college campuses …just to name a few! No matter what the setting, therapy dogs and their handlers work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.

It is important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks that a person cannot perform on their own. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs have special privileges in public places such as on planes, in stores, and in restaurants, etc. Therapy dogs do not have the same special access as service dogs.

How Did Some of My Dogs Become a Therapy Dog?

Not every dog has the right temperament for therapy dog work. Once I determined that the dog has good manners, and would react positively to being touched by strangers, I began the process of becoming a member of a therapy dog organization and started the testing process.

I registered my therapy dogs through Alliance of Therapy Dogs by doing the following:

  1. Read over the brochure that included information about becoming a member of ATD
  2. Completed the required background check.
  3. Downloaded, printed, and completed all necessary paperwork
    • paper work is updated annually. The current link can be found on this page.
  4. Used the link on the website to find a Tester/Observer (T/O) in my area.
    • The T/O tested me on the ATD rules and regulations.
    • The T/O did a temperament test on my dog to make sure that they have good manners and react positively to being touched by strangers.
    • The T/O monitored me and my dog during three visits to facilities where my dog and I had to successfully interact with strangers in therapy-like settings. During these supervised visits, the T/O instructed me and gave me advice and guidance while observing me and my dog in action.
  5. Once my dog and I passed all parts of the test, I submitted the membership fee and necessary paperwork to ATD

Which Dogs Make Good Therapy Dogs?

ANY breed can be a therapy dog! To become a therapy dog, a dog must:

  • be at least one-year-old
  • have a calm and gentle disposition
  • be good around other dogs
  • be calm when strangers pet them all over, and must not jump on others
  • walk on a leash without pulling
  • remain confident and calm around strange noises, smells, and medical equipment
  • be able to follow basic commands and listen to their handler

General Benefits of a Therapy Dog

  • Brings joy to others
  • Takes a person’s mind off of problems, pains and worries
  • Prompts people to open up and share their emotions
  • Encourages people to communicate with others
  • Lowers stress levels and blood pressure
  • Rekindles memories of past pets

Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Schools

Therapy dogs have countless benefits to offer to students of all ages! The following information is from the ATD website:

  • Socio-Emotional Benefits
    • One of the most significant impacts that therapy dogs can make in the classroom is students’ socio-emotional development.  Besides their training, therapy dogs bring their lovable and loving characteristics.  These friendly companions are good listeners and offer great companionship and an audience to children without making any judgments.
    • Students can bond readily with therapy dogs, feeling more connected and confident.  Studies show that this helps reduce negative behavior in children.  Spending time with dogs also helps improve children’s mental well-being.  There is intense pressure on children in school environments.  Therapy dogs help children learn social skills, preventing social isolation.
    • Interaction with therapy dogs has also been found to cause a social catalyst effect, and this further helps improve the stimulation of social behavior.  The relationships between the dogs and students help develop trust in children, and such children are also more likely to develop a broader capacity for empathy.
  • Cognitive Benefits
    • Besides positively impacting children’s emotional well-being, therapy dogs also contribute to cognitive development.  Some of the key benefits of interacting with therapy dogs are as follows:
      • Improved reading skills
      • Enhanced executive-functioning skills
      • Stimulating memory and problem-solving skills
      • Studies show that the very presence in an educational environment tends to improve the areas of attention, concentration, relaxation, and motivation.  This helps in reducing stress levels that would otherwise affect proper learning.
  • Relevant Research Studies
    • According to a 2019 National Institute of Health study, the presence of a dog in a classroom can help promote a positive mood.  The study also recorded the notable anti-stress effects on the body of students.
    • Another University of California study involving canine reading programs made another exciting discovery.  Students participating in a program experienced their reading fluency increasing by 12% to 30%.


I’d be glad to help if I can! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns you may have.

Bark-Worthy Banana Bread


  • 1 cup of organic oat flour (I used organic old fashioned rolled oats and pulsed them in a food processor to make my own flour)
  • 1 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk.
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe organic bananas
  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened applesauce


  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Grease a mini loaf pan (this recipe yielded 5 mini loaves for me)
  • Thoroughly mix dry ingredients in a large bowl using a fork or whisk.
  • In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork
  • Add wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork – just until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the greased mini loaf molds.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (approximately 25-30 minutes).

Veteran’s Park; Hamilton Township, NJ

On March 12, 2023 Lager did a very special hike in honor of K9 Veterans Day with his best gal pal, Ellie.

Veteran’s Park is a 333 acre park built in 1977 in honor of Hamilton, NJ’s veterans. The park offers many walking paths, picnic grounds, and athletic fields. We completed a 4.1 mile hike on mostly paved paths as we explored the various memorials throughout the park.

The Hike

M-60-A3 U.S. Army Combat Tank

U.S. Army Ah-1F Cobra Attack Helicopter

Military Working Dog Memorial

U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom II Jet

9/11 Memorial

Memorial for the Men and Women From Hamilton Township, NJ Who Served in the Armed Forces

Anchor and Two Missiles from World War II Battleships

Statues Throughout the Park

On Pins and KNEEdles: TPLO Surgery #2 (Left Knee)

March 6, 2023

Well…more like plates and screws…Today Whiskey had TPLO surgery on her left knee. I’m not sure why, but I was even more nervous this time around!

The surgery was performed at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital by Dr. Morris. Whiskey’s drop off time was 7am so we arrived a few minutes early so that she could visit her farm friends before being admitted for her procedure.

7:00 am: Check-In

Here we go!

Whiskey was a good girl (for the most part!) while in the waiting area after we checked in.

8:00 am

Once I got back home, I did a deep cleaning of the Fish Fortress so that her recovery area was super clean and ready for her arrival home.

8:55 am: Surgery

Whiskey was induced under general anesthesia and X-rays were obtained. She was taken to surgery, where she was confirmed to
have a partial tear in her cranial cruciate ligament. Her meniscus was normal. A tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (PLO) was then performed without complication. Whiskey received an injection of a long-lasting numbing medication along her incision during closure to aid in post-operative comfort.

12:00 pm: Recovery

Whiskey recovered smoothly from anesthesia.

3:00 pm: Will Work For Food

…Specifically chicken! Whiskey schmoozed chicken from her Aunt Amanda after surgery.

3:20 pm: Potty Time

Whiskey post-surgery soaking up some sun on this beautiful sunny day.

3:30 pm: Post-Surgery Selfie

Hanging out with her Aunt Amanda after a post-surgery snack and walk. Our friend, Amanda, is the Nursing Supervisor at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital.

4:30 pm: Pick-Up

After the first surgery on her right knee, Whiskey walked out of the hospital on her own. This time, she was reluctant to walk at all or to put any weight on her left knee. She had to be carried out to the car. This is understandable and expected because Whiskey’s right knee is still in the process of healing. Whiskey will be a bit more unsteady this time around, so we will have to be extra cautious and take things especially slow.

Home Care Instructions

  • Incision Care:
    • Whiskey’s incision will need to be monitored daily for excess draining, redness, swelling or discharge. Bruising is expected at the incision site and it should progress thru the healing phase as it changes colors. Any bruising that spreads in surface area will need to be documented with photographs and reported to the hospital staff.
    • A cold pack will be applied to the incision area 2-3 times daily for 5 minutes for the first 3 days following surgery.
    • The incision will not be covered and will be kept clean and dry
    • Whiskey is not allowed to swim or be bathed for the first 2 weeks following surgery to allow the incision to heal.
    • Seroma formation is common with knee surgery. A seroma can present as swelling around the ankle, the joint below the incision. This is where edema from the surgical site will settle over the first 10 days post-op. It will feel like a fluidy sac. Applying a warm compress to the area for 5 minutes 2 to 3 times a day and gently massaging the area will help.
  • E-Collar:
    • Whiskey will be wearing an E-Collar at all times when not directly supervised.
    • Many patients are able to reach around inflatable donut collars or soft cones. As a result, it is recommend to use a hard plastic cone unless Whiskey is being directly supervised because if Whiskey is able to access her incision, she may be at increased risk of complications such as infection or dehiscence.
  • Exercise Restrictions:
    • For the next 14 days, Whiskey will be confined to her Fortress and activity is restricted to short (less than 5 minutes) leash walks in the yard only to go out to the bathroom…then it’s back to her Fortress.
    • Whiskey must always be on a leash when outside.
    • Whiskey is not allowed to run, jump, stair climb or play with other dogs.
    • A sling will be used to support Whiskey while walking.


  • Carprofen (Rimadyl)
    • This medication is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for pain control.
  • Gabapentin
    • This medication is used to target neuropathic pain.
  • Trazodone
    • This medication is used as needed to keep Whiskey calm.
  • Codeine
    • This medication is a opioid derived medication used for pain control.

Whiskey is expected to increasingly put weight on the operated leg over the next 2 weeks so that she is at least touching the toe to the ground by the time she goes to her two-week check-up appointment. By 6 weeks post-op, Whiskey is expected to be comfortably weight bearing on her left leg. Full recovery can take up to 3 to 6 months once Whiskey is allowed to resume her usual activities.

Movement is Medicine: Week 4 Post-Surgery

Last week Whiskey was tapered off of all meds for pain and sedation. She tolerated it well! I kept her PT exercises the same since the pain meds were being stopped, but her walking routine increased by five minutes each session to three walks a day at 10 minutes a piece.

This week marks 4-weeks post-surgery and we once again kicked her PT sessions up a notch. Along with the exercises Whiskey began at her 2-week post-surgery mark, I added in some tug in addition to backwards walking instead of using it as an alternative, and also introduced cavalettis. Whiskey’s three walks a day also increased to 15 minutes per session. She is tolerating all of this just fine, which is great because surgery number two on her left side is less than a week away – March 6th!

Whiskey’s schedule at Week 4:


Controlled “tug” is a great way to encourage use of hind quarters during recovery.


Cavalettis during rehab strengthens muscles involved in knee flexion (bending), increases range of motion in the knee joint and helps to ensure stiffness in the joint does not occur.

If you are setting up cavalettis for your dog, here is a general guideline on where to set the poles:

  • Pole Spacing
    • Measure your dog at the withers. Then set the poles at the same distance apart as your dog’s
      height at the withers. For example, if your dog is 22 inches tall at the withers, space the poles 22 inches apart.
  • Pole Height
    • Set the poles at a height that is equal to half your dog’s hock height. For example, if your dog’s hock measures 6 inches from the ground, set the poles no higher than 3″ high. For the purpose of rehabbing Whiskey’s knee, I set the poles on the ground at first to get her acclimated to them, and then set them at 2 inches.

*Adjusted from original guidelines at

Intro to cavalettis

Cavaletti practice

Look Ma, No Sling!

Whiskey has been walking, doing her exercises, and using stairs without any assistance.

  • Stairs
Stairs (down)
Stairs (up)
  • Walking
Walking at 4 weeks post-surgery
Walking at 4 weeks post-surgery

Care Package

A very special someone sent Whiskey a “Get Well Soon” package! Yummy treats and the most PERFECT Benebone ever…a fish! Whiskey worked extra hard during her PT for the treats and was occupied all night with the Benebone fish! Such perfect gifts – and so thoughtful and generous! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!