Category Archives: guest post

Second Chances

Second Chances

A battered pick-up truck rattles up to the curb of a neglected house. The vacant property’s lawn is infused with crab-grass, clover and dandelions. Wispy white puffs of dandelion tufts drift above the yard resembling tiny wayward ghosts.

From the truck exits a man with well-worn boots and face to match. A realtor, he seeks opportunity in this abandoned house now owned by a bank.

At age forty, this man has had his share of “second chances”, so many in fact, he’s lost count. But his friends and relations haven’t. Rehabs, bad investments, poor life choices – all have led him to start over again, once more, miles from home.

It’s been a lonely struggle.

The man’s assets are few; his old truck, a thousand bucks in the bank, and a rented studio apartment. With no property of his own, becoming a realtor has been a dicey proposition. While his well-dressed colleagues escort clients in luxury cars to fancy open-houses in gated communities, he’s found some success fixing and selling run-down properties in run down neighborhoods. This house presents his first Foreclosure, so recent, there is not yet “A for Sale” sign sprouting from the house’s overgrown front yard.

He wonders what’s become of the home’s former residents; their circumstance somehow resonates with him. He blocks this thought, moving along the side of the house to the back. Rusting gardening tools and a plastic watering can rest near a tangled mass of drooping stems and browning leaves that have overtaken an area that looks like it was once a garden.

He quickly punches a code on the home’s lock box. He is cautious. Warned that some foreclosed houses contain squatters, meth labs, or infestations of wild critters, he’s prepared for unpleasant surprises. The door creaks open to stillness, but within moments, the empty room is overcome with a plaintive cry; the saddest sound the man has ever heard. It draws him to the kitchen where beyond a safety gate, a small brown and white dog stands amid overturned bowls. All traces of food and water are gone.

The dog fixes its amber eyes on the man’s face. They speak of loneliness and despair. Spooked by the sudden appearance of a stranger, however, the dog hangs back.

“Good dog,” the man whispers.

Loathing and sympathy consume him. He feels hatred for those who have abandoned such a helpless soul. But his anger mingles with sadness. These people were forced to give up their home and pet – believing this was the best they could do for this dog. Hoping for someone, even someone like him, to come to the rescue.

The man removes the gate and sits on the kitchen floor. The dog settles at his side, licking at the man’s face, wiping away the tears that trickle from his eyes.

The man stands and walks around the kitchen. Plastered on the refrigerator door are photos of the dog surrounded by his former care-givers in happier times. Next to one photo is a handwritten note. “Please take care of our dog. He is a good boy but we can’t take him with us.”

He recalls the bumper stick on the back of a car that he’d seen the day before – the image of a dog’s paw with the words, “Who Rescued Who”. Now those words take on new meaning.

The man removes one photo in which the dog sits alone, staring up and into the camera. The rest of the photos he leaves. He crumples the pleading note. He wants to track these people down and rage at them, and then report them to the police for being so negligent. But what good would come of it? They are already cloaked in their own brand of desperation; it lingers in the walls and floors of this home.

According to his information, the family has vacated the home just days earlier. It is fate that has brought him here in time to be useful. The choice is clear. He will make a new home and life with this fellow cast-off. The thought of this lifts a weariness that he’s carried for a long time.

The man leads the dog out of the house toward the truck. He’ll pass on trying to make any money on this empty shell. Let the bank seek the money owed them; he’s collected his commission.

Out on the front lawn, the dog pauses and with his nose pokes at a fluffy orb at the end of a dandelion stem. In the afternoon breeze, tiny white dandelion seeds float up in the air. One follows the dog as he heads toward the truck.

The man recalls a boyhood habit of wishes made on dandelion fluff. He laughs. “Did you make a wish boy?” he asks.

As if on cue, the dog walks to the passenger side of the truck, sits and waits. The door swings open and the dog hops in. The man goes round and settles into the driver’s seat. Both stare straight ahead as the car pulls away from this empty place, forming an alliance forged in second chances.

Lisa and TedAuthor’s Note:
This story was inspired by true stories related by realtors and a haunting, single blog post, of a down on his luck man who was trying to start a career as a realtor despite his age and string of unsuccessful attempts to make a new start. So many people, having no one to turn to, become desperate. Afraid of “Kill Shelters” they truly believe that their pets have a better chance staying behind in abandoned homes. I’ve spoken to a heartbroken man (a fellow author) in the military whose family had to leave his beloved cat behind when they lost their home while he was stationed in Afghanistan.

Although I often write works of Non-Fiction, I believe Fiction can truly engage the minds and emotions of readers and can be an effective way to start a dialogue that may benefit man and animal.

Lisa Begin-Kruysman is the author of Something’s Lost and Must Be Found a short story collection that celebrates the dog-human bond and Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, the true story of one man’s mission to let every dog have its day…and week! To learn more about the author and her work please visit: www.lisabegin-author.com

 

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5 Most Important Things to Know As A First-Time Dog Owner

Who doesn’t love a companion that is sweet, loving, caring, protective, and totally cuddle-worthy? Well, for most of us, the ideal pet companion is a dog that is also dubbed as a man’s best buddy and we couldn’t agree more.

Puppies!

Dogs are the most affectionate, fun, and adorable pets to have around, especially for those who like some company with them at all times. However, just because they are utterly adorable and perfect as best friends, there are still a few things to consider prior to bringing them home. In order to enjoy a happy and loving bond with your canine pet, we have listed down the 5 most important things you must know as a first-time dog owner.

Train your Dog to Follow Commands and Behave
First-time dog owners often make the mistake of spoiling their pets with ample food in their bowl at all times, offering them too many treats throughout the day, falling for their pet’s puppy-dog face, and many more. However, if you want your dog to be well-behaved, you will need to stop spoiling and start training.

You will need to teach it simple commands like sit, no, come here, stay, etc., to make your life easier. These commands also help keep your canine safe in risky situations. Depending upon the temperament and breed of your dog, you might also need to get your dog into obedience classes to make it obey your commands and remain in a good mood in public.

Positive Reinforcement is a must
Your dog might test your patience by not obeying your commands or doing something that irritates you, but you need to maintain your composure at all costs. Many dog owners get aggressive with their pet dogs and when their dogs don’t listen, they simply hit them to correct their behavior. Although it might seem the right thing to do to lightly tap your hand on your dog’s head to stop it from misbehaving, you need to know that it will only make things worse. Always apply positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog and make use of treats to encourage your dog to learn new tricks and commands.

Avoid too much Processed Dry and Wet Food
A healthy dog is the one that gets nourishment and nutrients from home cooked fresh food. However, due to the convenience that commercial dry and wet food offer, many dog owners opt for it without realizing the threat they may pose to their beloved companion’s health and well being.

Commercial dry and wet dog food can be given to your dog, in limited amounts on an occasional basis. It is best to cook homemade food for your canine friend with food items that are fresh and nutritious.

Bathroom Train your Dog First
When you bring your pet dog home, you need to know that it requires bathroom training. You cannot immediately train your dog to defecate in the yard, but you can place a litter box in its room with sand so that it doesn’t spoil your home. Once your dog learns to defecate in a litter box and is comfortable going in the yard, you can train it to use the yard as the bathroom.

Get in Touch with a Reputable Vet
One of the most important things that you need to do first when you get a dog is to get in touch with a reputable vet. Talk to your friends and family with dogs to recommend a good vet for your dog. Make sure the vet you choose is near your home so that you can rush to them immediately in emergencies.

We hope these tips will help make your dog a happy and healthy part of your family.

Guest post thanks to: Spoilt Rotten Dogs day care in Sydney, Australia.

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5 Essential Tips for Sharing a Living Space with Your Dog

Here it is! The big day when you pick up your new BEST FRIEND, your dog. Everyone is excited and happy as you drive home. You get out of the car and bound up the walkway, you throw open the door and let your dog inside.

Woops you’ve just planted a lot of future dog behavioural issues. You’ve just unleashed a strange and rebellious teenager on your home!

Cute dog posing on the carpet

Home Sweet Home
In order to have a well-balanced home, one where your dog behaves himself you need to teach him/her the house rules when coming into the home. These 5 essential tips can help you share your living space harmoniously with your new pet.

Keep in mind that the message you send your dog the moment he/she enters your home is critical. This is what establishes the ground rules for your dog. If you let him run in the door, the message you send is “everything is available here.” And that leads to broken things, eaten shoes, scratched furniture, unwanted pet hair on furniture, and utter disaster.

Follow these 5 steps for a smoother transition.

Keep Calm
When you bring your dog home remains calm. Don’t get too excited. Accept the dog into your home but only give a minimum amount of attention and affection at this point.

Take a Walk
When you first arrive keep the dog on a leash and go for a long walk through the new neighbourhood. This drains out the dogs excessive energy and gets him/her used to his surroundings; smells, sounds and sights.

Introduce your Home
Once you finish your walk, keep the dog on the leash and introduce him/her to the house. Bring the dog to the front door but don’t let him/her in before you do. You need to enter first and if possible get the dog to sit down before entering.

Take a Tour
Keep your dog on the leash and lead him/her from room to room. Don’t let him/her wander around yet. Keep him/her at your side then spend a few minutes in each room before going to the next one. At every door you go first to establish your leadership.

During the tour don’t speak, just use your body language and simple sounds to communicate. This keeps your dog from feeling overwhelmed.

Show Him/Her the Feeding Area
When you finish the tour, show your dog the food and water area. Offer a reward of water and a little food, but not a full bowl of food until you are ready to remove the leash. Likewise take the dog to his/her sleeping area or the place he needs to stay when you need him out of the way of household activities. Let your dog off the leash here. This is your way of telling him “this is yours.”

Bottom Line
By following these 5 steps you will claim your leadership in the pack and show your dog that you allow him into it, so long as he behaves and follows your lead.

Woman relaxing with dog and cup of tea

Guest post courtesy of Martha from Colour Pet Studio. Martha is a painter specialized in creating lifelike pet portraits from photos.

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Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs

The following is a sponsored post from Dog Fence DIY and contains affiliate links. Be sure to enter the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway at the end of the post!

On Thanksgiving, there’s always a lot to worry about before you can sit down at the table and enjoy your meal. Preparing your home and the food for your guests is time-consuming and can be stressful, and traveling can be, too. In all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to overlook things, especially when they’re out-of-the-ordinary, like holiday safety concerns for your dog. If you keep these Thanksgiving safety tips in mind, your dog will have a healthy and successful holiday, too. From using a DIY dog fence to ensuring turkey bones are thrown out, these things are easy to do and will ensure your dog stays safe.

Keep Your Dog Away from the Kitchen
Kitchen accidents involving dogs are common, especially around the holidays when cooking activity is increased. Dogs can be burned by hot liquids or cut by falling knives. They can also inadvertently get in your way, causing you to trip while opening the stove, for example. The best thing to do is to keep your dog out of the kitchen completely. An indoor wireless dog fence is great for this purpose, because it creates a barrier in your kitchen doorway that your dog cannot cross, but it doesn’t block your path like a gate would. You can also keep your dog in a closed room, but make sure they have plenty of toys and water available to them.

Make Sure Your Dog is Safe When You Travel
If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and bringing your dog along, make sure they’re safe by keeping them restrained in the car, either in their crate or with a safety harness. This will make them safer in the event of a crash, and it will prevent them from distracting the driver. When visiting relatives, keep your dog contained, with either a portable invisible dog fence or in a crate. If they aren’t contained, keep an eye on them, and be on the lookout for safety hazards in a home that isn’t dog-proof, such as exposed electrical wires or medications.

Don’t Feed Your Dog Dangerous Foods
While you may want to stuff yourself at Thanksgiving dinner, don’t allow your dog to eat too much. It’s best to avoid giving them any table scraps, because an excess of new foods can upset your dog’s stomach. Chocolate and xylitol (a sugar substitute) are poisonous to dogs. Fatty foods, especially things like turkey skin, can cause pancreatitis. Turkey bones can cause your dog to choke or puncture their intestinal tract or throat. Alcohol, raw eggs, onions, grapes, nuts, and raisins are other foods that dogs should not eat. Make sure garbage cans are tightly closed, and take out trash immediately after the meal, especially the turkey carcass. When deciding where to position your outdoor garbage bin think about your dog’s natural curiosity. For some dogs it will make the most sense to place it securely inside the perimeter of your electric dog fence; for others you may want to put it outside the perimeter or in a secured place like the garage.

Know What Dog Stress Signals Look Like
When there are a lot of visitors around, dogs can become stressed. For their well-being, it’s best to keep dogs away from the excitement if they can’t handle it or begin exhibiting signs of stress. Signals to watch for in dogs are drooling, hiding, shivering, panting, cowering, whining, pacing, staring, growling, and raised fur. If you notice your dog behaving abnormally, remove them to a “safe zone” in a quiet area of the house where they can rest with toys, food, and water.

Ensure a Safe Environment for Your Dog
When decorating for Thanksgiving, be cautious using edible materials such as corn, pumpkins, and hay. While they aren’t poisonous, they can cause stomach issues or choking, so put them out-of-reach. Lit candles should always be high enough that they won’t get knocked over. If using light-up decorations, hide the electrical cords or cover them, so your dog can’t chew them.

Discuss Dog Safety with Relatives
Make sure your guests are aware of these basic safety measures, too. Ask them to secure their belongings, especially if their suitcases contain things like medicine or candy, in a place your dog can’t reach. Tell your guests not to feed your dog anything from the table. Make sure small children know that dogs don’t like to be hugged. Ask for help in monitoring your dog’s behavior, so that your guests can be on watch for stress signals or health issues, too. When traveling, ask your relatives to provide a safe area for your dog to relax when necessary. Inquire about their yard, as well, and find out if it has a traditional fence or an electronic dog fence.

Remember that the most important thing to do is pay attention to your dog and their actions. Keep your vet’s phone number handy, just in case of emergency. If you notice any difficulties this Thanksgiving, be sure to plan in advance for next year. If you have a tough time keeping your dog out of the kitchen, for example, research invisible fence reviews so you have a good tool to help. As always, adequate preparation makes the holidays go a lot more smoothly for everyone.

These Turkey Day safety tips come to us thanks to the ongoing educational efforts of www.dogfencediy.com; Dog Fence DIY provides dog owners with an affordable alternative to pricey and complex dog containment solutions.

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