Tag: dogs

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).

Billie Jean puppy 5

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.

Billie Jean puppy 2

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: Walking Woof Workout at Purina PawsWay


A little over a week ago I partnered with Purina PawsWay to host the fourth Walking Woof Workout. The others focused on food and architecture, for example, but mine was focused on getting in some exercise as you walk your dog. Our first date for the event was rained out, but on July 19, we were blessed with hot and sunny weather — very hot, in fact.

Walking Woof Workout group!

It was so hot that I scaled back the workout because I didn’t want people or dogs getting dehydrated. I was happy with the turnout, though. I’m guessing about 25 people came, and the Save Our Scruff (SOS is a dog-rescue organization) also joined with three of their lovable dog rescues, who we all immediately fell in love with. I mean, who can resist three-month-old Popsicle??? He was a little tuckered out from the first half of the workout as you can see here.



And this here is Rolan, an adorable bundle of fur who is just shy of four months old who’s lovely owner came into town to check out PawsWay services. Rolan’s just a wee thing but he held his own in the walk.


I’d mapped out my route prior to the event, and had found hills we could do repeats on (look at Danielle and Tango crushing the hill repeats!), some paths we could sprint around, and more, but I ended up skipping the sprints.

hill sprints

We also used benches to do step ups, and I wanted to do tricep dips using benches but at this point the sun was strong and I could find a shaded set of benches, so I called that off as well. But I did tell the group we would do squats each time a dog relieved themselves; as you can imagine, we did a lot of squats…

step ups on bench

And it was fine to skip some of the exercises because many of us were just so enamoured with the adorable dogs and puppies. I wish all of the projects I work on could involve such cuties! This one here donned armbands for his workout:


Thank you to everyone who joined in for my PawsWay Walking Woof Workout and to Save Our Scruff for attending as well (I’ve only just been introduced to the organization but I am volunteering with them and in fact, today, I have my first SOS volunteer task)!

group shot outside of Paws Way

Leave a Comment July 29, 2015

Travel Swellness: Winter is wonderful in the U.P.

Eben Ice Caves

With the huge snowfall in Toronto yesterday (right after spring-like weather the day prior) and this morning’s bitterly cold temperature of -29C, it’s hard not to have a major dislike for winter right about now. Well, truth be told, it’s been hard to not hate winter for the past weeks now given how difficult it’s been.

When I start having these dark, angry thoughts about winter, though, I try to remind myself of how winter is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you recall, I visited the U.P. a few weeks ago. They get more snow there than Toronto, and it’s cold, but there winter is embraced. You can go dog sledding (just about one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had the opp to do — and I’m lucky enough to have done lots of pretty cool things including chimp tracking in Rwanda to hot air ballooning in Arizona); ice fishing; snowmobiling; exploring fantastical ice caves; and more. They even hold a snowboarding competition right in downtown Marquette on one of the steep streets.

Those winter wonders, of course, aren’t available right here in dreary, slushy, and insanely cold Toronto. But still, visiting the U.P. is a good refresher than winter can be amazing.

For more on what to see, do and, of course, eat (you know me!) in the U.P., be sure to check out my article on AmongMen.

amazing dogs at Nature's Kennel

Leave a Comment March 13, 2014

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