Filed under: Pet Swellness

Pet Swellness: 5 essentials for safe summertime fun with your dog

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If there’s anyone who’s happy about living under lockdown this summer, I think it’s the dogs of the world. After all, their humans are home way more often, and most of us have had more time to spend with our pups. I’ve taken my dog Billie Jean on way more runs and walks this summer than ever and made sure to have a good supply of essentials for her. My summertime toolkit for safe and fun playtime includes these must-haves, all available at Canadian family-owned discount chain Giant Tiger (so it was all well within my limited pandemic budget!):

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1. Portable water bottle

I think the person who made the initial design of this type of water bottle for dogs is a genius. Compact and so practical. Although we do pass a few public water fountains on our walks and runs, Billie Jean often doesn’t want to drink from them. Also, many of the fountains have not had water running through the pandemic, so I bring this water bottle for her regularly to make sure she’s always well hydrated. (By the way, this whole outfit–the sports bra, bike shorts and runners? All from Giant Tiger. Have you checked it out yet? Here are my tips on how to shop their ACX Active collection.).

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2. LED-collar 

We are often running and walking after dark, and hopefully we will get to go camping sometime this summer, too. So this LED-collar ensures she is well seen by cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. And it’s helpful for me to spot her too when I let her off-leash after dark. It’s been attracting a lot of attention too from everyone during our outings. Guess it makes her look a little like she’s gone to a rave, haha. This collar is adjustable, and it also comes with a separate LED-light tag if you want something more discreet. Best of all, no batteries required; this product recharges via USB.

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3. Bright, secure leash

A neon bright leash helps to make sure your dog is visible at day and night. Bonus: I’ve always been a fan of neon yellow. This style of leash has a handle with the poop bag dispenser integrated into it and it’s comfortable to hold. It’s not as comfortable to loop onto your wrist if you have to hold something in your hand, thoughI’d say that is its only downfall.

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4. Nutritious treats

I like to always have treats on me for her as a training tool and also in case she needs a snack; after all, if I’m bringing snacks for me during a hike, I figure she could use a snack too for a little fuel when we are out for a couple of hours. But just like humans, you have to make sure that your dog doesn’t snack too often and that you take those into account when considering how much she is consuming over the entire day.

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The range of dog treats at Giant Tiger is impressive; there are a lot of the well known brands you know and love, but there are also a slew of products from smaller companies. I look at the ingredient list to make sure the treats are not loaded with fillers; an all-natural favourite I discovered at Giant Tiger is from a local company, Caledon Farms (Billie Jean is obsessed with the Sweet Potato Chews, but devours their Beef Tendersticks as well). Plus, I also stocked up at Giant Tiger on Greenies Dental Treats for her dental care (my vet gave me a list of vet-approved products to manage Billie Jean’s plaque and this is one of them so I always keep a supply of them on hand), and to entertain her while at home, bully sticks are always a safe go-to option since she can be a decently strong chewer (plush toys last about one minute in our house!). 

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5. Outside toys

Billie Jean isn’t the greatest at fetch or catching things, but we’re working on it! It’s important to me that she leads a healthy, active lifestyle, so this lightweight frisbee is perfect for our park outings (even though she often retrieves it, drops it elsewhere and I’m the one fetching! But I guess that’s keeping us both active, right?). Having toys for your dog and making sure they’re getting the exercise they need can often help alleviate behavioural issues.

Here’s to making this the best summer yet for you and your pup! Summer isn’t cancelled!

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1 Comment August 11, 2020

Pet Swellness: Billie Jean’s origin story

Billie Jean puppy

Welcome to Who Do You Think You Are: Billie Jean Edition. 

I don’t know why it’s taken me over a year to look into Billie Jean’s origin story. Well, I know part of the reason is I often feel I don’t have time for anything…like all of us, ‘I am very, very busy,” haha. But the main reason is because when I asked Save Our Scruff about her back story when Billie Jean was my foster, all I was told was that she was at the rescue in the Dominican Republic for a year (and she was only a year old when she landed in Toronto, so she’d spent most of her life at a rescue) and I took this to mean little else was known about her.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I was on Facebook reading about another Scruff’s origin story and it included a link to a video of her dog, who also came from the DR. I watched it and then thought “How many rescues in the DR does SOS work with, can’t be that many…” so I clicked through to the Facebook page of Cocomutt Shak Dog Rescue and searched for “Billy Jean” (I changed the spelling to Billie Jean once I adopted her).

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And BAM! Up came an album devoted to her! And my heart just about exploded. I never ever thought I’d see puppy photos of my sweetheart. I now look at them daily (and one is my screensaver, yes, I’m that person now).

Billie Jean puppy 3

A few days after that, I decided to message Cocomutt Shak. I explained that I’d been Billie Jean’s foster through Save Our Scruff and had ended up becoming one big foster fail. I let them know that she was doing great. I added that when she arrived she was extremely timid and terrified but that she has come so far, is now dog social and is great with people once she gets to know you a little. I asked if they could tell me anything about her as I was curious about her occasional anxieties and just wanted to know where my sweet pup came from.

And the lovely woman who runs it, Tauny, messaged me back right away! So what’s Billie Jean’s orgin story?

Billy Jean puppy 4

Billie Jean was being sold on the beach, her eyes were barely open and her ears not fully formed yet. When the woman could not sell her, she left Billie Jean on the beach. A beach vendor named Billy knew about the Cocomutt Shak rescue so they called them up and brought Tauny to see Billie Jean.

“We brought her home and she thrived. She was not too nervous here, but here she is surrounded by dogs and only Len and I.”

I shared some of Billie Jean’s recent photos, and Tauny told me she still had the beach bracelet they had on Billie Jean’s neck when she first lived with them at the rescue:

Billie Jean beach bracelet

And get this — they had to make the bracelet smaller to fit her week little neck! That’s how tiny she was!

Given puppies are best off to be with their moms until two months (that’s what I’ve always understood and what a quick Google search confirms), I consider it a miracle Billie Jean survived.

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As for Billie Jean’s initial stressed-out state, I think it was due to not knowing anything other than Tauny and Len and the dogs she lived with. She went from living in a three-bedroom house (no kennels or crates) with the doors open so she  could come and go into the yard (which is on a half acre lot) as she pleased when Tauny or Len are home, to being stuffed into a crate, shoved into cargo on a plane and landing in a freezing climate and having a very excited person (me!) trying to show her love ASAP in a condo with a scary elevator and loud traffic and so many people all around . It’s no wonder she tried to bite me out of fear during our first interaction.

What is pretty wondrous is how quickly she adapted to life in the big city. I rejoice each time she playfully approaches someone in the park who wants to pet her or whenever she walks relaxed and happily beside me, but now knowing her beginnings and how her world was turned right upside down by coming to Canada (and making me the luckiest girl ever), every little success of hers is even more special. I’m so proud of her.

Thank you Cocomutt Shak for rescuing the most darling dog. It’s because of your care for this abandoned little beach bum that she made it into my life and I can never thank you enough for working with Save Our Scruff to help find her a forever home.

For more on Cocomutt Shak Dog Rescue, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. And Billie Jean’s got her own Instagram account, follow her @billiejeanxoxo.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment June 11, 2018

Fitness Swellness: Everyday lifestyle essentials at Mark’s

Marks Shambala lifestyle gear

I have a new category of clothes in my wardrobe, and it’s all because of my rescue pup, Billie Jean.

Until recently, my clothing could be broken down into three categories: my running gear, my actual clothes for going out, and my at-home clothes (which is essentially my pajamas–I’ve always been one of those people who put on PJs as soon as I get home no matter what time it is). Given that I work from home, this means until a few months ago, I spent a lot of time in PJs.

But now that I actually have to be out in public several times a day when working from home to walk and play with Billie Jean, I’ve found that I need comfortable clothes that are easy to get on quickly (especially for those morning walks, because I’m not an a.m. person!) and look presentable. My flannel PJs weren’t cutting it.

Fitting this new niche in my wardrobe is the Mark’s Shambhala line, which I’ve only recently discovered. Did you know that Mark’s launched in 1977 in Calgary (love that city!)? I only found that out now. That’s not to say that I’m a Mark’s newbie. I’ve shopped there since high school (although, in Quebec–where I grew up–it’s called L’Equipeur) and I’ve picked up sweaters, gifts, undies and socks throughout the years there.

Marks Shambala gear

Their Shambhala collection is a mix of workout gear and activewear, and the items are easy to throw on quickly (think easy to mix and match pieces of mostly solids with a few graphic prints). The pieces work for me because I can put on an outfit from the collection in the morning for Billie Jean’s first walk of the day, and then I’m super comfortable as I work from home. But I can also easily go for a run (or do any workout, but I just tend to gravitate towards running), or I can just as simply pop into my favourite coffee shop or pick up some groceries and my ootd is perfectly fine for any of these occasions. And that suits me well given my lifestyle (I’m typically juggling a lot of different things and just making it work with my schedule).

Which is like many of us these days, after all? Our responsibilities call for clothing that’s versatile. There’s a reason the active  look is sticking around, after all–being on the go is the new normal.

I’ve got on some of my fave pieces here but there’s a crisp striped tank that I think would be great for spring. I knew adopting a dog would change my lifestyle, but didn’t realize it meant a new day-to-day wardrobe, too.

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Leave a Comment May 11, 2017

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