1. Visiting a State Park
2. Walking in the ocean
Rita had fun taking a walk in the ocean for the first time!
My favorite photo from the day:
Rita, you are the mac to my cheese!
It certainly wasn’t our fastest race, (at least it was faster than our first 5k together!) but it was time well spent together – and for a good cause! 15% of each registration for this race is donated to Soles4Souls. Since 2006, Soles4Souls has collected and distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to those in need in 127 countries around the world and all 50 states in the U.S!!
Rita’s total race miles: 12.45 miles
Who’s the mac to YOUR cheese?!
Margarita checked-off another 2017 Summer Bucket List item when we visited the dog Beach on Long Beach Island.
She even went into Barnegat Bay for the very first time (You can see Barnegat Light House across the Bay)!
Margarita had a blast retrieving her toy from the bay!
We had an amazing day!
Since we get up so early during the school year, one of Margarita’s 2017 Summer Bucket List items was to sleep-in.
She accomplished that task like a boss! ZZzzzzzzz
Margarita’s Summer 2017 Bucket List item: Take a ride in a canoe for the first time!
What a beautiful night ~ The sky was as pink as Rita’s life jacket!
We had a beautiful sunset, and a fun night out on our lake!
Another great New Jersey winery ~ Amalthea Cellars !
Such a cool tasting room! Dog’s aren’t allowed inside – so if you visit with a friend, be sure to have them watch your pooch while you check out the inside of the winery.
We sat outside on the pretty grounds and very much enjoyed ourselves and the wine!
White Horse Winery, located in Hammonton, NJ, quickly became one of our favorite wineries!
Dogs are not allowed in the tasting room. However, leashed, well behaved friendly dogs are allowed outside, where they have corn hole, live entertainment, fire pits, and plenty of seating.
They have a nice selection of white, red, and rosé wines.
I think this may be Margarita’s new favorite winery as well!
Those of you who have been following along know that Rita became a registered Therapy Dog. My school district decided to start a Therapy Dog program, and Rita was one of the first dogs starting the program!
My students were super-excited! They made welcome signs, and we marked the calendar for her first day of school!
Students created posters and centimeter cube formations to welcome Rita to our class:
Ready for her first day of school with her Paw Patrol backpack!
Rita did very well with the kids, and the students enjoyed having Rita by their side as they practiced multiplication facts.
Rita was quite exhausted after her first day with the students, and napped her way through my Prep period.
Rita’s first day was a success – what a great program this will be for the students!
On April 2, 2017, Rita attended the Wheaton Arts Paws for Arts to volunteer as a donation dog with her Fiance, the very handsome Mr. Spock, for Pointer Rescue, Org (PRO). All cash that Rita collected was donated directly to PRO.
The Paws for Arts event partnered with the Cumberland County SPCA for a free community event that brought pet owners and their dogs on site for a day of art and fun.
Highlights from the event included:
■ WheatonBarks Dog Show and Parade
■ Several Animal Rescue Groups in attendance
■ Obedience Demonstration
■ Pet Supplies, Treats, Clothing
■ Dog Activities such as Paw Prints, Bobbing for Tennis Balls, and Pumpkin Pie, Photo Booth
Rita got her paw print done and I was able to pick it up in June, after they fired it in the oven!
■ Search and Rescue Demonstrations
■ Agility Course
■ Animal Themed Glassmaking Demonstrations in the Glass Studio
■ Pet Themed Kids’ Hands-On Activities
Double Nickel is a craft brewery located in Pennsauken, NJ, and is super dog friendly! This brewery is located in the town I grew up in, so I was very excited to visit and do a tasting!
This brewery was definitely worth visiting – we will be back for sure!
Eclipse Brewing is located in Merchantville, NJ in the town’s former EMS building.
The owner is a 27-year homebrewer, and has some very tasty selections!
I liked each of the four beers in my tasting – and so did Brian. We stayed for a glass of our favorites.
We will definitely be visiting Eclipse again soon!
Not long after Margarita and I passed our test to become a registered Therapy Dog Team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, I learned about a great program called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). I decided this would be an excellent opportunity for us, so I began to study for the written test. One day before Margarita’s 1st Gotcha Day / 7th-ish Birthday, we received the great news that I passed, and we are now officially a registered R.E.A.D. team!
“The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as “literacy mentors.”
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal. But not just any animal. R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.
R.E.A.D. is the first and foremost program that utilizes therapy animals to help kids improve their reading and communication skills and also teaches them to love books and reading. It’s been growing around the world since November of 1999 when ITA launched it here in Salt Lake City. More than 3,500 therapy teams have trained and registered with the program and are going strong!
Today, thousands of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and beyond. “
We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful program!
We recently tried Lure Coursing with Rita!
Lure Coursing is a system of mechanized lures and pulleys that simulate the unpredictability of chasing live prey. Dogs of eligible breeds are evaluated for follow, speed, agility, endurance, and overall ability as they pursue an artificial lure zigzagging across an open field. All dogs one year of age or older from the following breeds are eligible to participate in Lure Coursing Events.
AKC Recognized Breeds
If your dog is not one of the listed breeds above, you can still have them participate in the CAT test. The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) is an introductory event fashioned after the sport of lure coursing, and is for any dog of any breed, including mixed-breeds, as long as it is at least 1 year old and individually registered or listed with AKC. It tests a dog’s basic coursing instinct or hunting-by-sight ability. The dog chases an artificial lure, and the test is a non-competitive pass/fail event with dogs run one at a time. To pass the test, a dog running alone must pursue a lure, completing the course with enthusiasm and without interruption within a given time. Dogs that pass the CAT three times will earn a Coursing Ability (CA) title. Ten passes and a dog earns a Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA) title, and 25 passes results in a Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX) title. Licensed lure coursing clubs may hold CATs in conjunction with a licensed lure coursing trial or as a standalone event.
If your dog is not AKC registered at all, they can still participate in this lively and healthy activity by attending practice runs, as Rita did in the below video.
She had a blast!
Lure coursing information from: AKC
Rita came along with us to Lowe’s Home Improvement to help pick out our porch floor stain!
Come on, Dad – you are taking too long!
Yup – we have everything, Dad! Now let’s go home and play fetch!
Margarita was a great shopper!
*Please note- not all Lowe’s Home Improvement stores are dog friendly. The company leaves it to the store manager’s decision, so be sure to call ahead if you plan to take your pup along with you to shop in a Lowe’s store.
William Heritage Winery is family owned and operated, and located in Mullica Hill, NJ.
The outside patio is dog friendly, and the wines are probably some of the best we have tasted in NJ!
Rita and Limoncello have both earned their Rat I title (Instinct level), and both have one qualifying run for their Rat N title (Novice level).
We attended a barn hunt at Tail Wagging Events to see if we could both secure at least another qualifying run in the Novice level.
Unfortunately, neither team was able to do so, but we once again had a great time with our pups!
Those of you following along may remember that Margarita and I took a Therapy Dog Workshop in preparation for taking our Therapy Dog test. I am proud to announce that Margarita and I passed the 4-part test to become a registered team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs!
Margarita has already visited an assisted living home, a medical facility, and also participated in a local library’s children’s reading program!
We were super excited when Lower Forge Brewery opened, as it is located in the next town over from us – historic downtown Medford!
This brewery has great beer, and is extremely dog friendly!
Porter’s visit to Lower Forge in 2019
Village Idiot Brewing is located in historic downtown Mount Holly, NJ.
The tasting room was an old bar, and had a great atmosphere!
There were many interesting choices for our beer tasting!
Do you like great beer and a super-dog-friendly atmosphere? Then you’d love Flying Fish Brewing Company!
We had a blast here enjoying some very tasty beer selections, and meeting other people and their dogs! A German Shorthaired Pointer came in and immediately warmed right up to Margarita!
We enjoyed doing a beer tasting here – so many great choices!
We will definitely be back to Flying Fish Brewing Company!
Whiskey’s visit to Flying Fish in December 2019:
Keeping our Pointers both physically and mentally stimulated is very important to their health and happiness. We are always looking for new, Pointer-proof toys to help us bond with our pups, as we exercise the four of them. Our family is also very conscious about recycling, so I was more than eager when we were asked to try out a couple of products from Beco Pets!
Beco Pets is a fast-growing company focused on creating products for your pooch that are also good for the environment – all without compromising on quality, price, or safety for your fur-child. Whenever possible, Beco uses renewable or recyclable materials.
All rubber parts of Beco’s items are made from environmentally friendly rubber materials. Beco uses ethically sourced risk husk, which makes the rubber biodegradable, and free of BPA and Phthalates. Plant fiber plastic, made mostly of bamboo (they even recycle chopsticks!), makes their bowls 100% biodegradable. Plush toys and beds are made with stuffing from recycled plastic bottles, and only natural dyes are used for coloring. This company even recycles their cardboard boxes into the packaging for their items!
The first item we explored was the Beco Ball on a Rope.
The ball is made from natural rubber made from rice husk fibers, and the rope is made from 100% natural cotton.
This toxin-free toy is great for playing tug or fetch! We decided to let Margarita test-out this new toy!
Margarita also loved running around with this toy…
…and taking some time to stop and chew on it as well!
Here is Margarita enjoying herself with the Beco Ball!
Overall, we were very impressed with this product. Not only did Margarita thoroughly enjoy playing with this toy, it held up well to some tough chewing and rough-play, and best of all, it is non-toxic and eco-friendly. We look forward to reviewing the other products from Beco Pets, and Margarita looks forward to more fun with her Beco Ball!
Thank you, Beco Pets for giving us the opportunity to try out this product!
Guess who we ran into while Rita had her first swim lesson? Santa! This was Margarita’s first time meeting Saint Nick – she loved him!
Those of you who follow our Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter pages, know that Margarita cannot swim very well. When we saw her lack of confidence while in our lake, we decided that it would be beneficial to have a swim instructor evaluate her current swimming ability, and help her improve enough to feel comfortable swimming with Limoncello, Hooch, and Lager. We took her to Green Leaf Pet Resort, where we had taken Limoncello and Hooch in the past to swim during the winter months.
Green Leaf was very festive and ready for the Holidays!
Margarita’s instructor, Krystal, was so patient and kind!
With a little coaxing and a lot of patience, Rita was swimming with some guidance.
Margarita is definitely going to need some further instruction. We plan to continue to take her twice a month through the winter months in hopes to become a more confident swimmer this year.
Rita participated in the “Day of the Dog” 5k race through Virtual Run Events!
Our time was 33:01 – we managed to shave off 56 seconds from our last race!
This was a great run, as the fall colors were absolutely amazing!
20% of our registration fee was donated to Freedom Service Dogs. Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs, and custom training them for individual client needs. Clients include children, veterans, active duty military, and other adults. Their disabilities include autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rita’s total race miles: 9.35 miles
Brian and I think Margarita would make a great Therapy Dog, but we were unsure of the requirements, OR if Rita would truly make a good candidate for this type of work.
Last night we took her to a Therapy Dog workshop at WonderDogs in Berlin, NJ, where we have taken both Limoncello and Hooch for obedience training when they were young pups. (Click HERE to see Limoncello’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class at WonderDogs, click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class, and click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from the Terrible Teens class at WonderDogs!)
Jenny and Rita getting ready to start the first activity at the Therapy Dog Workshop:
Margarita lovers her “place” mat, and was a well-behaved, attentive student:
The instructor, Judith Azaren, focused on a variety of skills, including:
We feel as though Margarita did very well for her first time being presented with the tasks that were covered in this workshop.
Margarita quickly learned to look at me to earn a reward when she discovers staged piles of treats on the floor. Therapy dogs come across many items on a floor, such as medication/pills accidentally dropped on the floor. It is imperative that the dogs look to the handler rather than ingest what they find:
Here is Margarita weaving past other dogs, and not engaging:
Rita practiced loose-leash walking:
Margarita did well working around distractions such as crutches, wheel chairs, walkers, and a vacuum cleaner:
Margarita picked up on the “touch” game very quickly! Each time she touched my hand with her snout, she earned a treat. That was a fun game for her!
Here she is working on “touch” while not engaging with other dogs as they walk by:
Working on “touch:”
We have already contacted several Therapy Pet Registering organizations in order to start the process of Margarita’s evaluation and registration. We are hoping that with some additional training and practice, we will be able to have Margarita certified as a Therapy Dog so that she can help provide affection and comfort to those in need!
Do you think your dog or pet may be a good candidate for becoming a Therapy Dog? Each organization has different requirements, so be sure to do your research. Here are some of the most well-known for therapy pets (click on the names below to be directed to the organizations’ website):
Both Limoncello and Margarita did very well this weekend! Both gals ran 2 Novice runs, and both secured one qualifying Novice score toward their Novice title. The Novice level requires the dogs to find the tube containing the rat, complete a tunnel, and have all-fours up on a hay bale (in no particular order) within two minutes. Cello and Rita will need two more qualifying scores to earn their Novice title.
Instinct Run: Qualified! 13.53 seconds (new Personal Best!)
*For those of you wondering why we participated at the Instinct level when Rita is already titled at this level, you are allowed to still do an Instinct run to get your pup warmed up as long as the dog has not titled in Novice.
Novice Run 1: Qualified! 1:44.71 seconds
Novice Run 2: Rita completed the tunnel, and before she could attempt the hay bale climb, Jenny jumped-the-gun and called the wrong
location of the rat.
Rita’s First Qualifying Novice Score Ribbon!
Instinct Run: Brian called the wrong location of the rat.
*For those of you wondering why we participated at the Instinct level when Cello is already titled at this level, you are allowed to still do an Instinct run to get your pup warmed up as long as the dog has not titled in Novice.
Novice Run 1: Qualified! 1:50.82 seconds
Novice Run 2: Cello executed the tunnel and the hay bale climb, but Brian called the wrong location of the rat.
Brian and Cello in Novice Run 2:
Cello’s First Qualifying Novice Score Ribbon!
Overall, we had a fun day, and enjoyed Barn Hunt with our two little gals!
Rita and I ran our first 5K together through a site called Virtual Strides. Virtual Strides provides an opportunity to participate in a virtual race (which can be run or walked!) anytime — anywhere– with whoever your want — and even indoors on a treadmill! Once you register for one of the virtual races, you can complete the distance any time and anywhere, and upload your finish time to the website. Virtual Strides will mail you a finisher’s medal after you upload your results, or at the end of the race period, whichever comes first. The best part is that a portion of the race’s proceeds gets donated to charity!
Rita and I ran the “Run Free” race.
This race benefited the National Mill Dog Rescue. National Mill Dog Rescue has pledged to put an end to the puppy mill industry, and has saved more than 10,000 dogs since 2007. National Mill Dog Rescue hopes to educate the public to acquire their companion animals through reputable breeders, shelters, and rescue groups.
Rita did GREAT! This was the first time I ever ran without music (running with music has been a MUST for me). I wanted to be sure I could hear everything around us in order to protect Margarita in case there was a loose dog, etc. I have to say – talking to Rita through the run was way more motivational than any music!
Our finishing time was 40 minutes, 25 seconds. Not bad considering Margarita decided she’d stop 3 times for potty breaks, TWO of which needed to be bagged-up, if you know what I mean!
I submitted our results, and a few days later, the race medal arrived in the mail!
Rita’s first official medal! She now has a spot of her own, among her siblings, on the “Wall of Fame” in our bar room.
Margarita had shown great interest in this sport up until the extreme heat wave set in. She does not do well in the heat, and we are unsure if the extreme temperature is the cause, but she seems to have lost interest in Barn Hunt. We had been practicing for a couple of weeks – both at barn facilities, and at home. Rita had been actively finding the rat and enthusiastically signaling the location, and had learned “up!” as the command to jump up on to a hay bale, and “tunnel!” as the command to go through the hay bale tunnel. She was executing all those elements over the past couple of weeks, but appeared uninterested at the trial. We will continue to bring her to practices, as well as sign her up for trials through the Fall and next Spring to see if the cooler weather helps spark her interest again. Despite her nonchalant attitude, and her Mama’s lack of skills in reading when Rita picked up the rat scent, Rita did pretty well, earning her Instinct Title!
Instinct Test: PASS! Time: 49 seconds
Rita’s Instinct qualifying ribbon
Novice Class: Timed out
Rita pretty much shut down in the heat of the day, and wasn’t very cooperative in the barn ring. She did give indication that she found the rat (which I missed completely…something I definitely have to improve upon if we continue to participate in this sport!) and would not complete the hay bale climb or tunnel.
Rita is now Instinct titled in Barn Hunt!
We decided to make Sunday a “Girls’ Day,” and bring Limoncello along to participate in Barn Hunt!
Margarita showed NO interest again today!
Novice Class: Disqualified!
Margarita again would not execute the hay bale climb or the tunnel in her Sunday Novice run. She did find the rat (and Jenny was able to identify Rita’s barely-there-signal!), however, Rita then immediately peed in the barn (oops!), which according to Barn Hunt rules is a disqualification.
Cello had never even practiced before today, yet passed her Instinct test in just a few seconds, and did really well in her Novice run!
Instinct Test: PASS! Time: 17 seconds
Limoncello’s Instinct qualifying ribbon
Novice Class: Fail: Brian called incorrect location of rat
Limoncello completing the hay bale climb and tunnel requirements:
Limoncello hunting for the rat:
Overall, it was a very fun day learning more about Barn Hunt, and how to read Rita and Cello’s instinctive hunting behaviors!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
One of my favorite childhood memories was hearing the Mister Softee ice cream truck coming down the street.
This weekend, Rita got to enjoy some vanilla custard with me from the Mister Softee truck!
SUP with Your Pup!
Margarita learned how to balance on a paddle board! Why is this such an accomplishment? Due to her past, Rita is extremely fearful of any object that looks like a long stick/pole. She has a severed spleen as a result of blunt-force trauma, so we need to be very careful when handling objects WE take for granted, such as brooms, mops, vacuum cleaner extensions, and since we live on a lake… paddles!
We started with no paddle… Then introduced the paddle slowly- first just laying it on the board… then moving it around, then gradually picking it up. We got to the point where I could paddle – switching to either side- and she was fine with it. We will continue to work with her on the paddle board …and hopefully we will be able to fully stand up with her on the board sometime soon!
Margarita got to stay in a hotel for the first time (the Comfort Inn, University Center) when we made a spontaneous decision to be “Sunday Spoilers” at the Celebrate Fairfax Festival dock diving competition!
I am so proud of this little girl and how well she did!
Rita came with us to Vincentown Florist and Garden Center to pick out some plants and bushes to dress up our front yard.
She enjoyed all the attention she received from everyone!
The rescue we volunteer for, GSP Rescue of NJ, covers all of New Jersey, parts of New York, and assist other recognized out-of-state GSP rescues in urgent situations. In addition to re-homing GSPs, they also work with owners to help them with any issues they may have with them. In emergency situations, the rescue will also reach out to help English Pointers.
When an English Pointer rescue could not take a female English Pointer known as “Penelope,” she was on her way to being taken to a shelter when GSP Rescue of NJ offered to help. Although the GSP Rescue of NJ was willing to help this poor girl who was found as a stray, our foster homes were full, and there was no one available to foster her. Although we do not usually foster, we decided that we just couldn’t let this skinny pretty girl end up in a kill-shelter. On March 3, 2016, we committed to fostering Penelope so that she could begin her road to recovery.
She was transported to the rescue’s vet, and was examined. Penelope was completely emaciated, appeared to have had many litters, had a tumor on her neck, tested positive for Anaplasmosis (a tick-borne disease) and severely damaged and rotted teeth. She also had a cut on her tail and her belly. While at the vet, she was supposed to have teeth extractions, a lumpectomy, and also be spayed. The dental work took so long, that not all needed teeth could be pulled, and the lumpectomy and spay could not be performed due to the length of time she was under anesthesia. She had a total of 6 teeth pulled during her first surgery. The vet set her up with a future appointment for continuation of dental, her spay, and removal and biopsy of the lump on her neck.
On March 4, 2016, another GSP Rescue of NJ volunteer, Mandy, was nice enough to pick Penelope up from the vet and meet me half way to cut down on my 2 hour drive-time.
Penelope was a great passenger, and rested calmly for her ride to our home.
Once home, we introduced her to each of our fur-kids individually on lead by meeting out on the street and taking a short walk together. After the initial greetings were over, we gave her some time to explore the yard on her own before we settled her down in a crate.
In just the first night and day that we spent with Penelope, we got her to sit for a treat, and sit-stay for a picture. She did not appear to know basic commands, but was very food-driven and eager to please. She did wonderfully in her crate, ate well, and slept soundly.
We introduced her to our cat, Loki, and she seemed to be just fine with him.
We also introduced her to fellow rescue friends Jen and Grace’s male English Pointer (Penelope LOVED him!) as well as our friends’ two GSP puppies. She did amazing with all the dogs, and had a very fun-filled, exhausting day!
Penny had her second surgery scheduled for her lumpectomy, more teeth to be pulled, and her spay a few weeks later on March 29, 2016. We fell more in love with her as each day passed! Just a few days before her spay, she went into heat, so the vet opted to put off her spay once again. Her lumpectomy and dental surgeries went well.
Thirteen days later, when we got home from Penny’s suture removal, Brian asked me if I wanted a glass of wine to celebrate. I asked, “Celebrate what?” Brian said, “Our newest family member!” After tears of joy, hugs, and celebration, we renamed her Señorita Margarita (Rita for short)!
Rita’s third surgery was for her spay. The good news is that her spay procedure went well. At the time of her spay, we opted to have an additional procedure called Gastropexy in order to avoid bloat (a common cause of death in pointers) in the future.
Thank goodness we opted for that extra procedure, because it was during that part of the surgery that our vet discovered that Rita had lesions on her spleen as well as a separated spleen – commonly seen in a dog that has suffered blunt-force trauma from being kicked. Although this was heartbreaking news to hear, it was during this discovery that our vet also noticed a mass on her spleen. Had we not opted for this additional procedure, the mass as well as a part of her past would have gone undetected. An aspiration of the mass did not give enough information to determine a diagnosis, so Rita will have an ultrasound done in May to explore the mass and other organs to determine our course of action. She is recovering nicely from her spay and is being extra-spoiled. However, we ask that you please still keep her in your thoughts, as we do not yet know the complete outcome of the mass on her spleen. Thanks to all of you for your support and kindness through our fostering as well as our foster-failure of this angel!!
Well, we are proud to admit we are complete failures. Foster failures that is! Remember Penelope our foster-kid? (If not, click HERE to read her story) Well, she quickly ingrained herself into our hearts and home…and we could not imagine our pack without her! We have officially adopted her, and her new name is Señorita Margarita (“Rita” for short!)
Welcome to your forever home, Rita!
We had the pleasure of discovering Bellview Winery in Landisville, NJ this weekend.
Bellview Winery is located on a 100 yr old 150 acre Farm in Southern NJ. This winery not only had delicious wines (wine tasting is only $5 for 8 selections of your choice), but they were extremely dog friendly. Cello was allowed inside in the tasting room, and anywhere on the grounds.
After completing our wine tasting, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the grounds of the winery.
Cello hammed-it-up while playing with her ball on the grounds of the winery!
This winery also offers a free Vintner’s Club – a chance to earn rewards while enjoying Bellview’s wine!
We enjoyed the wine so much, we bought several bottles to bring home!
Margarita visited here on July 23, 2016
If you are ever in the area, this winery is a must-do stop along your way! Be sure to check out the many events they host at the winery as well!