Category Archives: Tamara McRill

Is Your Dog’s Collar on Securely?

By Tamara McRill

Putting on a dog collar should be an easy task, right? Pick one that fits your dog’s unique personality, slip it around his neck (not too tight), fasten, give your woofer an affectionate head rub and you’re good to go. At least that’s what I always thought, but it turns out there’s more that goes into making sure your dog’s collar is on nice and secure.

I found this out the hard and heart-stopping way, with my chocolate Labrador, Wuppy. We were all geared up to take a walk in our new neighborhood, which is super exciting when you’re a dog that loves the adventure of new locations. When Wuppy and I set off, he bounced right out of his collar!

See, Wuppy has a generous waddle – the loose skin around a dog’s neck – which, combined with his bouncy behavior makes keeping him in his dog collar a little tricky. Luckily for me, our older dog, Cody, was also in the yard with Mike. So Wuppy bolted straight to the two objects of his hero worship.

Go By Feel, Not Sight

The first thing I learned when I started researching how to properly make sure my dog’s collar was secure was that I was doing it wrong. No shocker there – he did escape. I was looking at Wuppy’s collar to see if it looked like it was loose enough, when I should have been feeling it.

A good rule of thumb for flat collars, which are the most common, is to make sure you can get two fingers underneath it. You simply slide your fingers in between the collar and your dog’s neck. If there is more space than that, try tightening it up a notch until it is tight enough to comfortably allow your fingers underneath. If you can’t get two fingers under the collar, then loosen it up because you could be accidentally hurting your dog’s throat.

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Tips for Involving Your Dog in Your Wedding

By Tamara McRill

Have you ever thought about how great it would be to have your dog prancing proudly down the aisle at your wedding? After all, the ceremony is supposed to be a gathering of friends and family. Shouldn’t your four-legged pals be there too?

Of course they can, although there are some considerations and practicalities to consider before you start fitting your dog for his tux. Once you have those sorted out, you can determine the best role your pet can have in your nuptials.

Is Your Dog Ceremony Ready?

What you should really consider before getting too excited about the idea of including your pet is if your dog is up to the task of being in your wedding. Is your dog calm around strangers? Will he tolerate wearing any extra adornments for the occasion? Carefully consider whether your dog would really prefer to be relaxing at home instead of at your wedding.

You can check my “Should You Bring a Non-Service Dog to a Wedding?” post for a full list of considerations before deciding to let your pooch participate on your wedding day. It covers everything from potential problems for guests to whether the venue even allows pets. Just remember that you will need someone your dog is comfortable with to be their “handler” during the ceremony. You will be a little busy getting hitched.

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Why Do My Dog’s Eyes Glow in the Dark?

By Tamara McRill

Ever spot a pair of demonically glowing green or red eyes in the dark, only to realize they belong to your cute and cuddly dog? What really gets to me is when I’m the one outside and I see the floating bright orbs peering out my window. You know, it’s that split second where you’re torn between wanting to turn and run or bust in to save your pets from…whatever “It” is.

But of course, “It” is your dog’s (or even cat’s) eyes glowing in the dark. It turns out there is even a very scientific – and reassuring – reason their eyes shine so eerily in the darkness.

Tapetum Lucidum

No, that’s not the starting phrase of an exorcism, although it is Latin. It means “bright tapestry.” The words are also the scientific term for the light-reflecting surface between a dog’s optic nerve and retina.

The tapetum lucidum is what makes dog’s eyes react to light exposure differently than human eyes, essentially reflecting the light back through their eyes like a mirror. The rods and cones make use of the multiplied light to see better in the dark. Dogs and other animals with the structure, like cats and deer, can use very low levels of light to see.

Different Colors

In addition to superior night vision, this reflected light is also what produces eyeshine in dogs…that surreal colored glow that comes out in their eyes at night. What I find fascinating is that not every dog’s eyeshine is the same color.

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Are You a Helicopter Pet Parent?

By Tamara McRill

Do you hesitate to let your dog or cat do anything outside or even inside of the home without your supervision? Or maybe you’re quick to give them extra tips and hints during training or games. You’ve probably at least heard the phrase “helicopter parent,” but have you ever stopped to consider that you may be a helicopter pet owner?

Hovering Isn’t All Bad

If you constantly hover over your pet and manage every aspect of their lives, as well as try to solve all of their problems, you just might be a helicopter pet parent. I’ve given this some serious consideration and have to admit that, to some extent, I am. As our dog Cody gets older, I notice we do way more for him, whether he needs us to or not, and monitor everything he does that much closer.

Now this type of parenting has bad connotations, but helicopter pet parenting isn’t necessarily all bad. Like with most things, it depends on how far you take it. Although it does seem easier to take it too far with our pets than with children, since our fur babies are constantly in our care.

As long as we realize our pets deserve to make their own choices at times and need to be self reliant to a certain extent, a little hovering won’t hurt them. It’s when the hovering turns to smothering that there can be a problem. Are you wondering if you may be a helicopter pet parent? Take this short quiz to find out!

Helicopter Pet Parent Quiz

1. When your dog or cat drops a toy just out of their reach, you
A. May not even notice, if you’re not watching at the moment.
B. Glance to see if it’s near breakables or has fallen behind the couch.
C. Jump up and go get it for them.

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Dog Inspired Valentine’s Day Crafts

By Tamara McRill

I’m a dog person who likes to make special things for every holiday. So of course I had to make some Valentine’s Day crafts inspired by my canine loves! The three doggie Valentine’s Day crafts featured here offer a little something for everyone and are fairly easy to make. They even make excellent gifts for the dog lovers in your life.

Sweetheart Dog Book Page Art

Have you ever seen those framed book pages with an ink drawing or sketch of a dog on them and wished you could have one of your pet? I have and finally figured out just how simple it was to make. Especially after using some of the same techniques used in making a dog portrait pumpkin.

Supplies: Ruler, scissors, tape, pencil, black ink pen or fine point marker, red marker, book or newspaper page, frame, computer and photo of your dog.

1.  Measure the opening of your photo frame.

2.  Cut your book or newspaper page 1/2 inch wider than that measurement. (Bonus points if you can find a page about dogs.)

3.  Bring up your dog’s photograph on your computer screen. Blow it up just big enough to fit in the center of your book page.

4.  Tape your book page to your monitor and lightly trace the photograph. You don’t have to get too detailed, just get the general impression, but don’t forget to give the idea of your pet’s general markings.

5.  Untape your book page and go over what you have traced with a black pen or marker.

6.  Color the dog’s tongue and collar with red marker.

7.  Draw a red heart in the upper right or wherever you like best.

8.  Frame your book page art.

Of course, feel free to take any artistic license! Dusty was quite fascinated with his portrait.

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How to Make Sure Your Dog Likes You Best

By Tamara McRill

When my chocolate lab Wuppy first came into our home three years ago, I had one ultimate fear: What if my dog doesn’t like me the best? That may seem like a strange or small thing to worry about, but it was a very real possibility, given that my fiancé is a dog magnet. We already had a dog that was “his” and every dog that comes across him gives him an enthusiastic happy tail/face licking woof of approval. I missed that special bond of being an animal’s favorite person, so I took steps to make sure we were bringing home a puppy that would love me as much as I already adored him.

1. Meet Often Before Bringing Home

I had the opportunity to get to know my Wuppy before his owners couldn’t keep him any longer. I already knew that he liked me, because he would follow me around their home. That played a huge part in our agreeing to add him to our family.

Always try to visit and interact with a dog before bringing one home, so you know how they will respond to you. You never know what a dog has been through before you adopt them. You could resemble someone they are afraid of, or maybe they smell another dog and don’t like it.

Also make sure to introduce the dog to everyone who lives with you, so you can gauge who they will bond with the strongest. It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if they go to one of your kids or another family member more often; you just want to make sure they feel comfortable coming to you. That’s enough to start a relationship.

2. Be the Sole Provider

We all know that the quickest way to the canine heart is by being the person with the tastiest dog treats. If you want your new dog to consider you his #1 human, you’ll have to be the one that feeds them their CANIDAE and hands out all of the TidNips and Snap Bits. It’s not a job you can shove off on another family member, and it means you will have to be there when they need to eat. It’s a commitment to take care of their needs.

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