9 Years Old

Happy 9th Birthday to Windy Spot’s Homemade 𝗛𝗼𝗼𝗰𝗵 💚!

HOWWWWW is it possible that you are NINE?! It seems like it was yesterday when we brought you home at 8 weeks old!! With not a gray hair to be seen (any white you see are original markings) and your never ending energy, you are our forever puppy! You may not be fond of most other dogs, but you are so lovable to every human you meet. You keep us laughing each and every day with your silliness! You have taken me on so many grand adventures with dock diving…. And I look forward to many more memories and adventures with you! We love you, Hooooooooooch! Happy birthday, buddy! 💚

𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭: Egg Cups with a side of cheesy sweet potato hash browns (pictured separately because I forgot to include them in original photo 🤦🏼‍♀️), strawberries and clementines

𝐃𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫: Bird Dog Bird’s Nest , raspberries, blueberries, pineapple

𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐭: Birthday West Paw Toppl

  • Rim: coated in honey and topped with chia seeds
  • Icing: mashed potato, mashed cauliflower, plain yogurt all mixed together
  • ”Chocolate” drizzle over top of icing: blackstrap molasses
  • Toppers:
    • Top: bday cookie
    • Sides: heart shaped treats “stuck” on with dollops of peanut butter
    • Hole plug: Carob dipped treat


Bird Dog Bird’s Nest


For Pasta:

1/2 box (8 ounces) organic whole wheat spaghetti (can also use organic buckwheat or chick pea spaghetti)

1 firmly packed cup of finely chopped organic spinach leaves

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil 

For Assembling:

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons organic whole milk

1 large organic egg

Organic olive oil, for drizzling

Organic baby spinach (fresh)

Fresh mozzarella balls


  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ . Spray the bottom and sides of four 4-inch-diameter springform pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta until slightly tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the spinach, cheese, and oil. Toss well until the spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool.
  3. For assembly: Beat the Parmesan, milk, and egg together in a large bowl until smooth. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti mixture until well combined. Twirl 1/2 cupfuls of the spaghetti mixture around tongs or a large fork and transfer to the prepared pans. Make an indentation in the middle of each nest of pasta and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before removing the sides from the pans. Remove the bottoms of the pans from the nests using a thin spatula.
  4. Place a bed of spinach leaves on a small plate. Place the spaghetti nests on the spinach leaves. Place 3 balls of fresh mozzarella in each nest and serve.

Modified from original recipe found here.

Egg Cups


  • Organic white or whole wheat bread 
  • Meat choice (I chose beef – braciole cut), lightly browned
  • Organic shredded cheddar
  • Organic Egg – Large
  • Fresh organic parsley, chopped


•Lightly brown the meat

    •Cut the crust off of the bread

    •Sprinkle bread slice with shredded cheddar, covering the entire slice

    •Place meat slice on top of layer of shredded cheddar and position layered bread slice over top a muffin tray

    •Use an appropriately sized glass to press slice into the muffin tray to form a cup

    •Crack egg into “cup”

    •Bake at 350℉ for 20 minutes for fully cooked egg and yolk (or adjust time depending on how you want the egg cooked)

    •Remove cups and allow to cool. Sprinkle chopped parsley over egg cup and serve!

    Peanut Butter-Carrot Layer Cake


    • Mini springform pan (4-inch)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 large organic eggs
    • 1/3 cup organic all-natural creamy peanut butter (no salt/sugar added and xylitol free) at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup organic shredded carrots
    • 1 Tablespoon organic honey


    • (1) Potato- 7 ounces – peeled, and boiled until very soft – then cooled
    • 3.5 ounces organic cauliflower florets – steamed or boiled until very soft, and then drained and cooled
    • 3-5 tablespoons organic unsweetened coconut milk
    • (1) container (5.3 oz) of plain yogurt (unsweetened)


    • Dry kibble
    • Organic shredded carrots


    • CAKE:
      • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
      • Grease a small round springform pan. Set aside.
      • In a bowl, mix the eggs, peanut butter, honey, and shredded carrots. Add baking powder
      • Pour the batter into the pan and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    • Keep the cake in the springform pan and let cool for 20 mins on a wire rack. Then remove from springform pan and allow to cool completely.
    • Cut cake lengthwise into two layers

      • In a food processor, blend the potatoes, cauliflower, and yogurt. Add the milk gradually. Continue to add more milk in order to make the icing creamy and spreadable. After I finished with the food processor, I used a fork to mash any remaining solid pieces and to whip the frosting.

    Assembling the Cake:

    • Spread half the frosting on the top of the bottom layer
    • Add the second cake layer on top, and then frost the top of the cake
    • Decorate the cake with shredded carrots and your dog’s kibble

    Puppy Pizza


    • 1 whole organic cauliflower
    • 1/2 cup shredded organic mozzarella cheese
    • 4 tablespoons shredded organic parmesan cheese
    • 2 large organic eggs

    Pizza Toppings:

    • Cooked organic chicken, cut into small cubes
    • Cooked organic broccoli
    • Organic pumpkin purée (100% pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling)


    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spray a thin layer of non-stick spray to the parchment paper (I used organic coconut oil non-stick spray)
    • Use a food processor to finely ground or “rice” the cauliflower until you have 3 cups worth.
    • Cook the 3 cups of finely ground cauliflower until soft
    • Using cheesecloth to drain the cauliflower, removing as much as water as possible.
    • Transfer the drained cauliflower into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 3 tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese, and 2 large eggs. Mix all ingredients well.
    • Spread the cauliflower pizza dough onto the parchment paper and form a circle . Bake until golden
    • Once cauliflower pizza dough is finished baking, add all pizza toppings and bake for 3-5 mins or until cheese is melted.

    I spread a layer of pumpkin on the crust first instead of tomato paste
    Then I added cooked chicken and broccoli
    Last, I topped the pizza with organic shredded mozzarella cheese before putting it back into the oven
    • Allow pizza to cool down and serve a piece to your dog!

    To Have a Comeback, You KNEEd to Have a Setback

    May 4, 2023: Final Check-Up


    Whiskey definitely had a tougher time with her left knee compared to the surgery and recovery of her right knee. Prior to the appointment I had been in touch with her surgical team to let them know that she was still favoring her left knee at times and that the lymph node in her rear left leg was enlarged. Whiskey also still needed to be on Gabapentin twice a day to minimize the limping on her left side. On May 4th, Dr. Morris examined Whiskey and felt that overall she looked great. Whiskey was using both of her back legs without hesitation during the appointment, but still had some swelling along her left incision. The lymph node behind her left knee was still enlarged, but Dr. Morris said she is hopeful this will resolve on its own as the swelling continues to improve. Whiskey also had X-rays done which did not display any sign of infection, and showed that her bone has completely and appropriately healed.

    Home Care Instructions:

    • Unlimited leash walking- allow off leash for about 5 minutes after each walk
    • Figure 8 Circles, to the left and the right, trotting/ running speed
    • Trotting or running in a straight line- no sharp cuts or turns
    • Short retrieves

    Whiskey can return to her normal activity level at the end of 2-3 weeks of gradual increases.

    Whiskey’s first time off-lead since February 1, 2023

    May 8, 2023

    Despite how well Whiskey’s final check-up went, swelling at the incision suddenly seemed to have increased, a sore had formed, and Whiskey was limping a bit more.

    Left knee:

    Left knee (left) in comparison to the right knee (right):

    View of both knees:

    I shared my observations with Whiskey’s surgical team, who was very responsive and extremely supportive. After reviewing the photos and videos that I had shared, Dr. Morris decided to put Whiskey on a round of antibiotics. If the swelling, sore, and limping does not improve upon the completion of the antibiotics in two weeks, Whiskey will have to return to Dr. Morris for a re-examination.

    Whiskey began taking Cefpodoxime Proxetil on May 8th. We are hopeful that by at the end of her antibiotic regimen, the overall condition of Whiskey’s left knee will have improved. The conclusion of Whiskey’s antibiotic schedule happens to fall on the Feast Day of Saint Rita! (Saint Rita of Cascia (Born Margherita Lotti) is the patron Saint of impossible causes and bodily ills). I will be praying to Saint Rita for relief and healing for Whiskey.

    Oral Cancer Awareness Month

    April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual observation that emphasizes the fact that early detection of oral cancer can increase long-term survival. This observance is a great opportunity to highlights the importance of making oral cancer checks a part of your dog’s teeth brushing routine.

    What Are The Signs?

    Some of the signs of oral cancer may be:

    • oral pain
    • loose teeth
    • visible lump or mass inside of the mouth
    • swollen areas of the face
    • reluctance to eat
    • weight loss
    • bad breath
    • excessive drooling
    • bleeding from the mouth
    • trouble chewing

    Not all of the signs above may be obvious at first. Your best defense is to check your dog’s mouth regularly. Below is a guide from Chase Away Canine Cancer on how to check your dog’s mouth for signs of cancer.

    Click HERE to see the full guide on how to check your dog’s entire body for cancer.

    Our Oral Cancer Warrior

    Although his profile may have changed, Lager’s excitement for life and of quality of living has not. Lager has adjusted well to his rostral mandibulectomy and is eating his regular food, picking up toys, grasping small objects, doing all of his favorite activities… and even trying new ones! Lager was very fortunate that his oral cancer did not spread to any other part of his body. I fully understand that Lager is one of the lucky ones to have been deemed cancer-free after his rostral mandibulectomy, and I intend to pay that forward by trying my best to spread awareness, educate others on how to check their dog for cancer, and by doing anything I can to support fellow PAWrents who find themselves on a similar journey with their fur-kid. If you or anyone you know wind up on the same difficult path, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

    Blondie Brownie Bites


    • 1/2 c. organic vegetable  oil
    • 2 Tbsp pure natural organic honey
    • 1 c. organic whole wheat flour
    • 4 organic eggs
    • 1 tsp organic pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder


    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    2.  In a medium bowl, mix the oil and  honey until thoroughly blended

    3.  Add the remaining ingredients, and mix well.

    4. Pour batter into a mini muffin tray that has been sprayed with nonstick spray

    5. Sprinkle a few carob chips on top, then bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

    6. Let cool on a baking rack before serving to your pup.

    Cross That Bridge When You Come To It

    They say every path in life has a bridge and the journey is crossing it. Personally, I prefer to take the long route and avoid bridges altogether. Crossing bridges really takes a “toll” on me, as I have a huge fear of overpasses… like heart-racing-sweaty-palms-death-grip-on-the-steering-wheel-kind-of-fear…. and forget about looking over the railing while crossing. I despise driving over large bridges and dislike walking over them even more. However, despite the panic that I feel about driving and walking over these structures, I do think they are all beautiful and they do truly intrigue me – especially the covered ones!

    Cry Me a River, Build Me A Bridge… And GET OVER IT!

    Although covered bridges were once popular in the Garden State, NJ currently only has two remaining. Having lived in New Jersey my whole life, I was surprised to have learned that our home state had two of these magnificent structures that I had never seen…so last week, Limoncello accompanied me on a road trip to see (and drive over/through) both of them!

    New Jersey’s Covered Bridges

    March 28, 2023: Scarborough Bridge

    Located in Cherry Hill, NJ, this bridge was built in 1959. It has two lanes as well as 2 sidewalks for pedestrians.

    We drove through the bridge (once in each direction). There was ample safe parking nearby, so I pulled over and Limoncello walked with me to the bridge to take some photos. It was awesome to see up close!

    March 30, 2023: Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge

    Built in 1872 and located in Stockton, NJ, this structure is New Jersey’s oldest (and longest) covered bridge and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is only one lane, so an adjacent bridge was built to accommodate traffic on both directions. I did turn around so that we could drive in the opposite direction over the adjacent bridge but there wasn’t any safe areas to pull over to take pictures with Cello.

    Both Bridges were beautiful to see in person… and best of all, I got to spend some one-on-one time on the road with Limoncello!

    Knee Deep in PT

    2-Week Post Surgery Check-Up

    March 23, 2022

    • Assessment
      • Dr. Morris said that Whiskey looked great today and that her incision has nearly fully healed. Whiskey is using her leg without hesitation and Dr. Morris is very pleased with her progress.
    • Goals next 6 weeks
      • Maintain stifle stability, improve muscle mass and range of motion
    • Home Care Instructions
      • Whiskey’s incision has healed so she no longer needs to wear her E-collar. However, Whiskey has been trying to lick this incision (last surgery she did not attempt this) so we may need to replace the E-collar if we note that Whiskey is licking excessively at the incision site since scar tissue is weaker than normal skin and may be more prone to trauma.
      • Whiskey will need to continue to be restricted to leashed walking only; no running, no jumping for the next 10 weeks.
      • No off leash activity outside.
      • Continue leash walking program with gradual increase in duration:
        • Week 2-3 after surgery: 5 minute intervals 3 times per day
        • Week 3-4 after surgery: 10 minute intervals 3 times per day
        • Week 4-6 after surgery: 15 minute intervals 3 times per day
        • Week 5-8 after surgery: 20 minute intervals 3 times per day
      • Begin post-op rehab exercises
        • Elevated Stance
        • Sit-to-stand
        • Backwards Walking
        • Figure 8’s
      • If increased fatigue, soreness or discomfort is noticed with increased walks, we are to revert to previous level of activity and begin again from there.
      • Whiskey cannot exceed 20-30 minute intervals until x-rays confirm appropriate bone healing.
    • Medications
      • Gabapentin will be continued for at least 1 more week as activity is increased, and then discontinued or used as needed.
      • Trazodone will be continued on an as needed basis to enforce exercise restriction.
    • Follow up
      • Whiskey’s next recheck appointment is scheduled for May 4, 2023. At that time, x-rays will be obtained in order to ensure adequate bone healing prior to allowing her return to normal activity.

    Fixing Pains, Taking Names, Making Gains

    I’m relieved that we are back in the swing of Whiskey’s PT program. Whiskey had been getting antsy and was definitely ready to get moving again! The next 6 weeks we will be knee-deep in PT working hard and hoping our efforts will result in a positive report during her next evaluation on May 4th!

    Be Smart Enough to Know When You Need Help, and Brave Enough to Ask For It

    People laugh when we tell them we drive hours away from our home “just to have our dogs jump in a pool.”  DockDogs has been so much more than a competitive sport to us and our pack.  This organization has blessed us with an extended family consisting of THE most amazing people and pups that you will EVER meet.  Although there are countless reasons we are grateful to be a part of this community, The B.A.A.R.K Foundation is among the top.

    We were able to save Lager’s life and obtain some financial relief because of the The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization run by volunteers of the DockDogs community.  The Foundation promotes community spirit, compassion and support of the DockDogs family by playing a leading role in making grants that enable and strengthen the DockDogs community when members have fallen on hard times. This foundation was truly a life-saver for us and for one of our 4-legged family members. Below is an account of our family’s story that we agreed to share with The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation for them to post publicly on their website.

    “Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It’s one of the bravest things you can do. And it can save your life.” (Or in our case, our dog’s life)

    ― Lily Collins, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me

    Photo Credit: Precise Image Creations

    Lager is a retired Contracted Working Dog under the State Department (War Zone name: Nayt), having served 18 months in Iraq as an Explosives Detection Canine at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. We adopted Lager at the age of three in 2015 when he returned to the United States.

    At the time of the situation, Lager had been competing in DockDogs for about 7 years. We were driving in our camper on the way home from a World Championship qualifier Labor Day weekend 2022. It was then that I noticed a rather large mass in Lager’s mouth, located behind his lower left canine tooth.  Upon our return home, Lager had surgery to remove the mass and obtain a biopsy.   Pathology reports showed not only was the mass malignant, but the type of cancer that was detected tends to be extremely locally invasive.

    Lager saw an oncologist and went through a day of testing including an abdominal ultrasound, x-rays, needle biopsies, and bloodwork to be sure that the cancer had not spread to other areas his body. Luckily, there had been no sign of metastasis. He then saw an oral surgeon who informed us that Lager would need a rostral mandibulectomy (a large portion of his lower jaw had to be removed to obtain clean margins from this locally invasive mass).

    Although Lager was 10 years old at the time of his diagnosis, he surely does not act like a senior-aged dog.  We joke that he is the real-life Tigger as he bounces around and is happy and excited about every little thing. He had so much life left to live and is one of the most motivated dogs we have known.  Although the thought of a mandibulectomy was terrifying, we knew in our hearts that he would not let anything hold him back from enjoying life, so getting him healthy again was a must.

    Photo Credit: KJ Photograpy

    Even though our 5 competitors had received multiple World Championship Invitations that we had already accepted and paid for, we canceled our trip to the World Championship knowing we would need the extra time and finances to appropriately care for Lager. We canceled any upcoming camping trips we had planned and opted out of Holiday gift exchanges with friends and family…but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to get us through.

    We have been members of the DockDogs community for about 9 years.  We have donated to the B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and were very familiar with the assistance the foundation has provided to fellow competitors. However, considering we have always carried insurance for our dogs and consistently had positive experiences with reimbursements, we never imagined having the need to reach out to  B.A.A.R.K. for help.  2022 turned out to be a very tough year for us financially.  When Lager’s medical bills totaled over $12,000 we were shocked, but at the same time confident, thinking we could rely on our insurance to provide an 80-90% reimbursement as we have received in the past.  However, Lager’s insurance only covered a miniscule amount of the total.  We were not financially prepared to be responsible for such a large bill and were completely distraught.

    We began researching other insurance companies and reluctantly reached out to Tina from the B.A.A.R.K Foundation and explained our situation. I say reluctantly because we had never been in this type of situation before, and even knowing it was our last resort, we felt embarrassed to ask for help.  In the past we had been fortunate to have been the ones donating and providing help to others in charity organizations. I am so thankful that we decided to contact B.A.A.R.K. Brian and I were brought to tears by how kind, compassionate, and understanding Tina was during our conversation, as the call was not an easy thing for us to do. 

    Brian and I are forever grateful to The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and the DockDogs community for their support during such a difficult time in our lives. We plan to pay it forward through spreading the word about the foundation, offering donations in the future when we are able and encouraging all members of the DockDogs community to give to B.A.A.R.K. in whatever capacity you can. If you cannot donate to the foundation, please consider volunteering in other ways or helping to collect donations at competitions.  You just never know when you or a fellow community member will need assistance with medical expenses.

    Thank you B.A.A.R.K. and our DockDogs family – this is truly THE best community.  We are proud to be members and grateful that our dogs have connected us to the most amazing group of people anyone could ever wish to have in their lives.

    Lager’s new profile post-surgery

    Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

    ~The Liver Killers: Jenny and Brian Beadling and our 8-pack of Pointers

    Click HERE to see our story posted on the B.A.A.R.K Foundation’s website.

    A Note About Pet Insurance

    When asked to share my advice in getting insurance for your dog, my answer is always “absolutely insure your dog if you can afford to do so.” However, even BETTER advice is to make sure to do your research and talk to others with experience in insured fur-kids when considering companies.

    We had insurance policies with a particular company who changed hands and in turn, changed their coverage and their quality. They dropped coverage of teeth cleaning and their plan put a (smaller than I expected) cap on each individual diagnosis. When Lager was diagnosed with oral cancer, it became glaringly apparent that we should have changed insurance companies long ago when found ourselves left with a huge bill we were not prepared to pay. I blame myself for not being on top of things enough to realize that our insurance coverage was inadequate before it was too late. We have since been working on switching insurance policies for the dogs who don’t have a laundry-list of pre-existing conditions.

    This post is not meant as a sounding board to bash insurance companies. It is meant to highlight and commend The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation as well as a plea for others to protect themselves and their fur-kids as best as possible by researching, speaking with others, fully understanding insurance policies before committing, and knowing when it’s ok to ask for help.

    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 cleanrun.com

    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!

    Martini’s Novice Trick Dog (NTD) Title

    We adopted Martini (Tini) from Pointer Rescue, Org. She arrived on July 10th, 2021. Unfortunately, Tini’s past left her with some deep rooted fear. She was so terrified that she could not function through daily life activities. She would release her bladder, bowels and anal glands almost simultaneously at the sight or sound of someone. If I attempted to do training, she would shut down at the sight of equipment, a leash, my hand signals… even treats.

    It was beyond difficult to exhaust every option in my power to try and convince Tini that she was safe with us…just to fail over and over again… to see my 4-legged family member shudder in fear in her own home was heart wrenching.  In March 2022, Brian and I finally realized that lessening Martin’s fear was beyond our capabilities…We needed help…. and LOTS of it. 

    We sought the advice and expertise of a Behaviorist. On March 7, 2022 Martini was evaluated by Dr. Shana Gilbert-Gregory at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. Dr. Shana diagnosed Martini with an extreme case of Global Fear. Global Fear dogs suffer from distress and anxiety caused by animate, inanimate, and situational fears, or a combination of all. It is often impossible to determine all circumstances to which a globally fearful animal may react. Dr. Shana has been so patient and kind, and her expertise in behavioral medicine is outstanding. In the last year, Tini has trialed over 10 medications and numerous combinations and doses of each. Although we observed progress along the way, it was painfully slow and included roadblocks, plateaus, and setbacks (Dr. Shana prepared us for this). Martini attended “Happy Visits” at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, and had a re-eval on November 21, 2022. At that re-eval, I was defeated. I inquired about taking Martini off of her medications – wondering if we would ever find something that would allow her to have the quality of life she deserved….maybe we just had to resort to the idea that Tini was going to be like this forever? Dr. Shana advised against stopping any medications, and suggested that we trial another drug. Just days later, and before we had made any changes in her medication, I began to observe some breakthroughs. Could it be? I emailed Dr. Shana and she told us to sit-tight and see how things develop over the next few weeks. In the weeks following, I continued to see progress! Then… another plateau. Dr. Shana adjusted the dose of her current drugs again, and more headway was made!

    Just recently, Martini has made even MORE wonderful progress. Lately I saw her becoming more and more comfortable in an upstairs room in our home, and she specifically used the bed in this room as a safe place. (The bed has recently been taken off of its frame for our dog, Whiskey, who is recovering from surgery). When I saw the confidence within Tini while in this room, I figured I’d give training another go. I decided to use the bed as her “place” in lieu of a Klimb. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I would have never believed it – but she didn’t shut down – in fact she had fun, and she learned each task QUICKLY… 593 days / 1.6 years later, SHE DID IT!!

    Tini completed the necessary 15 points as she mastered eleven Novice Level tricks & two Intermediate Level trick (each worth 1 point) and one Advanced Level trick (worth 2 points).

    Tricks Submitted for the Novice Title:

    The video is not perfect by any means – but it is surely one of THE happiest, proudest moments I have ever had!  Congratulations to Pinelands’ Perfect Half-Pour: Martini! HUGE thanks to Dr. Shana… Martini is on her way to living the life she deserves and showing the world her fun personality – she would not be at this point without Dr. Shana and her staff!

    Why Trick Training?

    Trick training can mentally and physically stimulate your dog. It can help build the dog’s muscle tone and stamina. The tasks can also increased flexibility, balance and concentration. This type of training also tends to boost a dog’s confidence and strengthen the bond between human and dog. …and best of all…IT’S FUN! If you are interested in trick training, I am a member of an amazing trick dog group on Facebook run by one of the most kind, patient and knowledgeable people I know. I’d be glad to help you get started…you won’t regret it!

    If You KNEEd Me, I’ll Be in Rehab (2 Weeks Post Surgery)

    Care Package

    Whiskey received a wonderful get-well package on February 10th with the cutest purple toy and super yummy treats! She was SO very happy! This could not have arrived sooner, as Whiskey is starting to get a bit tired of confinement- this made her day – and ours!

    Weak in the Knees For You: Valentine’s Day

    I do annual holiday photos with our pack, but all the dogs know that when the photo backdrop gets set up, yummy treats are to follow…and that causes much excitement. I decided it was best if Whiskey did not participate in the Valentine’s Day photoshoot. Instead, I decorated her Fish Fortress (recovery pen) using a couple of photo backdrops.

    It’s Going Tibia a Good Day: Two Week Post-Surgery Check Up with Dr. Morris

    February 16, 2023

    • Assessment:
      • Dr. Morris said that Whiskey looked great! Whiskey’s incision has healed appropriately, she is using her leg consistently, and she was not reactive to palpation of her plate.
    • Medications:
      • Carprofen
        • dosage schedule is complete
      • Codeine
        • dosage schedule is complete
      • Gabapentin
        • will be continued for 1 more week while her activity is increased, then will be discontinued.
      • Trazodone
        • on an as needed basis to enforce exercise restriction.
      • Supplements to continue long-term
        • Dasuquin Advanced
        • VRS Omega Benefits
    • Restrictions
      • Whiskey may NOT do any of the following:
        • running
        • jumping
        • playing with other dogs
        • off leash activity
        • stairs (unless on a leash and speed is controlled)
    • Goal and Instructions for the Next 6 weeks
      • Goal
        • Maintain stifle stability, improve muscle mass and range of motion
      • Home Care Instructions
        • Whiskey’s incision has healed. She no longer needs to wear her E-collar. However, she may need to wear it again if she begins licking excessively at her incision site.
        • Although we can stop using the sling for assisted walking, Whiskey will need to continue to be restricted to leashed walking only; no running, no jumping for the next 10 weeks. We will also need to watch closely for lameness in either of her hind legs.
        • No off-leash activity outside.
        • Begin leash walking program with gradual increase in duration (NOTE: If at any time increased fatigue, soreness or discomfort is noticed with increased walks revert to previous level of activity).
          • Now through Feb 19 / Week 2 post-surgery: 5 minute intervals, 3 times a day
          • February 20-26 / Week 3 post-surgery: 10 minute intervals, 3 times a day
          • February 27-March5 / Week 4 post-surgery: 15 minute intervals, 3 times a day

    New Knee, No Cone…Who Dis?!

    Whiskey was given the all-clear to be cone-free AND sling-free! Her first cone-less / sling-less post-op walk was around the grounds of Mount Laurel Animal Hospital to visit some of the farm animals.

    Whiskey’s first post-op walk on the street

    • Follow up
      • Whiskey is tentatively scheduled for surgery on her left knee on Monday, March 6.

    A Joint Effort: Rehab Exercises

    In addition walking program, Whiskey also is also starting an exercise program. Exercises can be used in conjunction with walks as a warm up or a cool down. Together and with Whiskey on a leash, we will be practicing the rehab activities:

    • Elevated Stance
      • Have dog stand on a step or foam pad (I used a Klimb). Make sure both back legs are even.
        • Hold for 30-60 seconds
        • perform one time a day weeks 2 to 6 post-op
    • Sit to Stand
      • Sit dog with affected leg close to a wall (I used the back of our couch). Note if your dog uses both legs evenly. Drop treat in front of your dog to encourage them to stand up.
        • Repeat 3 times
        • perform three times a day
    • Backwards Walking
      • Using a treat near your dog’s nose, motion towards the dog’s tail. Reward when the dog offers one step back, gradually building up to several steps. Lower your hand if your dog sits instead of backing up.
        • back up for 6 to 10 feet and repeat 2 times
        • perform once a day
    • Figure 8’s
      • Use 2 objects (e.g. cones, milk jugs, buckets… I used folding step-stools) to encourage your dog to make a figure 8 in both directions. Make each figure 8 two times the length of your dog.
        • Repeat 3 times
        • perform before each walk

    Luckily I had all of the items on-hand from doing conditioning and training with our pack, and Whiskey was already familiar with the commands and activities she had to perform.

    You Can’t Spell Party Without PT: Whiskey’s Rehab Activities All-in-One Video

    Git ‘Er Done

    I made a checklist to print out to help keep me on track with Whiskey’s schedule.

    We are hopeful that if we follow Whiskey’s rehab plan as directed, she will be ready for her second surgery on March 6!

    Valentine’s Day 2023

    Happy Doggone Valentine’s Day from The Crazy Eights! Which pup would you CHEWS to be your Valentine? Each pup left captions on their photo to try and FETCH you up as their Valentine!

    You looking for an Alpha dog? If so, I’d CHEWS you for my Valentine.
    I’d never keep you on a short leash.
    I’ve only got eyes for you!
    And squirrels… And sticks… And dog butts… And dog poop…
    I’ll be your Tramp if you’ll be my Lady.
    Your doghouse or mine?
    ~Whiskey (recovering from TPLO surgery #1)
    I’ll sniff your butt if you sniff mine.
    Did you achieve “Best in Show”? Because you sure are a winner to me.