7 things to think about when hiking with your dog #PinnacleHealthyPets #sponsored

Fall is so close we can almost taste it, and here in Phoenix, AZ, that's a big deal. You leave the cocoon of your air-conditioned home that has sheltered you from the scorching temps and venture out into nature for the first time in months. Every summer, we ask ourselves why we live here, and then paradise comes as the seasons change, and we remember. Our family loves to be active outdoors in the fall, and one of our favorite activities to do together is hiking. We live in the desert foothills, just steps from a maze of fantastic hiking trails. Whether we want to go straight up the mountain or take a leisurely stroll at the base, we have options. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., loves to hike with us.

 7 Things to Think About When Hiking With Your Dog

7 Things to Think About When Hiking With Your Dog

This post is sponsored by Pinnale and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping create awareness about Pinnacle's Newly Formulated Grain Free Dog Food, but Well Minded only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Pinnacle is not responsible for the content of this article.

Before embarking on a hike, we all fuel our bodies with nutritious food that will sustain our efforts. This is especially important when it comes to N.A.S.H.A. Though large as a lion in spirit, her body is a mere eleven pounds, so I estimate she takes at least eight steps to each of ours when we hike. It's important to us that she eat healthy food without artificial additives. Proper pet nutrition is essential to a healthy, active pooch. 

So what do we feed her?

I'm a big fan of rotational feeding (would you want to eat the same thing every day for years?), so we feed her several types. That being said, it is essential that the food have high quality ingredients. We prefer grain-free varieties with limited ingredients. As with the food I put into my children's bodies, if I can't pronounce it, we don't let the dog consume it. 

Pinnacle® is a great example

Pinnacle-Holistic-Pet-Nutrition

Pinnacle® Pet Food is top-notch. As part of our overall approach to holistic health, Pinnacle fits in beautifully. Why is Pinnacle pet food so great?

 Pinnacle Pet Food is an excellent choice for holistic canine nutrition.

Pinnacle Pet Food is an excellent choice for holistic canine nutrition.

• high-quality ingredients that are great fuel for your pooch such as quinoa, sweet potato, pumpkin, sea kelp, and cottage cheese

• natural, healthy recipes

• high-quality proteins 

• antioxidants that support a healthy immune system

• fiber to promote healthy digestion and stool

• helps with joint health and overall muscle tone (great for those long hikes)

Pinnacle Pet Food is made right in their California plant, which eases my mind. I'm that overprotective doggy mama who stresses about where N.A.S.H.A.'s food comes from. Don't judge. I still kiss my kids in front of their friends, too.

Proper canine nutrition is one of the most important things so sustain N.A.S.H.A. on our fall hikes, but there are several other things to consider when venturing out with your pooch.

top 7 things to think about when hiking with your dog

 We always make sure N.A.S.H.A. gets plenty of water to drink before, during, and after our hikes.

We always make sure N.A.S.H.A. gets plenty of water to drink before, during, and after our hikes.

1. Proper Hydration. It is essential that your dog drink plenty of water before, during, and after your hike. There are collapsable bowls that can fit into your backpack or pocket, and there are even water bottles with built-in bowls or drinking attachments just for dogs.

2. Pause and think of the paws. You have hiking boots, but your dog doesn't. What is the weather like? If it's too hot, your pet's paws may burn. If it's too cold, your pet's paws could freeze. Also, consider the terrain. Paw protection such as booties are a great idea, but may make it difficult for your dog to hike over rocky or uneven surfaces. Make sure nails are properly trimmed, as well. Consider all factors, and always take your pooch's paws into consideration.

3. Always keep your pet leashed. I know, this one is a bummer, but it's so important. Especially when venturing in the great outdoors. You may encounter other dogs on the trail, or your dog may be tempted to stray off the trail after a rabbit or other enticement. No matter how well you think your dog responds to commands, still, use a leash.

4. Patrol the poo. Always bring poo bags on a hike. Biodegradable ones are best. On our local trail, there are a lot of dogs, and most of them poop within minutes of the start of the hike (so we can enjoy carrying their droppings all day, I presume). We often place our poo bags just off the trail so we don't have to hike with them, but can pick them up on the way out. There are also poo carriers your dog can wear, but I think that's kinda mean. In any case, don't be a jerk and leave your dog's poop on the trail.

 Always keep your pet leashed when hiking.

Always keep your pet leashed when hiking.

5. First aid first. You don't think anything will happen, but that's just when something happens. A basic pet first aid kit can be a lifesaver, and many of the items can be used for both humans and dogs. Throw it in your hiking backpack before you depart. 

6. Phone with GPS. I know...the point is to look up from your phone and get in touch with nature, but keep your phone with you in case of emergency. And your phone's GPS can help you if you get lost. Take a couple of selfies with your pooch, while you're at it.

7. Proper Nutrition. I can't stress this one enough. As I mentioned, Pinnacle Pet Food is a great one to try if you are interested in holistic nutrition for your active pooch. Set your dog up for a successful grand adventure by providing him the proper fuel.

 Proper nutrition helps N.A.S.H.A. feel great during our family hikes.

Proper nutrition helps N.A.S.H.A. feel great during our family hikes.

Do you hike with your dog? What outdoor fall adventures do you enjoy together?

Next month we'll be checking out Pinnacle Pet Food in detail and sharing the findings with you, so be sure to check back! 

Connect with Pinnacle on Facebook and Twitter.

 

summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare

Since summer is my busiest time as a pet sitter, our family typically stays close to home. With temps reaching 110°-plus, we are either in a pool or seeking out indoor activities to have some fun in-between pet sitting visits. We are fortunate that the Phoenix Public Library offers fabulous free programs and guest speakers, especially during the summer. One of our favorites each year is Rich Isle's Reptile Adventures.

 Summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare.

Summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare.

Rich, "the Reptile Man," has been obsessed with reptiles since he was a young boy, and he's become an expert, sharing his knowledge and his exotic reptiles with the public, touring all over the Phoenix Valley. He has had a personal collection of live reptiles for over 40 years. He tells his audience of youngsters that if they are interested in something, they should study and read all about it so that they can become experts, too (after homework, of course). He shares his passion with others.

Rich brings the live reptiles through the audience so kids can see them up close. He teaches about their characteristics, environment in the wild, their diet, defense mechanisms, and life cycles. Aside from getting to see some really awesome reptiles, the kids walk away with a broader knowledge and greater respect for these often-mysterious creatures. He lets the kids know which ones make great starter pets and which ones are better left to the experienced reptile wranglers. 

Check out some of the cool creatures we got to see!

 Sunset, a bearded dragon from Australia.

Sunset, a bearded dragon from Australia.

 Slim, a blue-tongued skink.

Slim, a blue-tongued skink.

 Amarilla, an albino green iguana. She's only four, but when she grows up she'll be six feet long!

Amarilla, an albino green iguana. She's only four, but when she grows up she'll be six feet long!

 Pumpkin, a Tangerine Milk Snake. She'll grow to be seven feet long.

Pumpkin, a Tangerine Milk Snake. She'll grow to be seven feet long.

 A piebald (she has random patches of white) Ball Python.

A piebald (she has random patches of white) Ball Python.

 T-Bo, a 26-year-old Rhinoceros Iguana.

T-Bo, a 26-year-old Rhinoceros Iguana.

 Theresa, a 9-year-old Python. She's only half grown, and that's only about half of her!

Theresa, a 9-year-old Python. She's only half grown, and that's only about half of her!

 The kids got to pet Theresa. 

The kids got to pet Theresa. 

I feel so lucky that my children and I get to experience these amazing creatures up close. What a rare opportunity and amazing hands-on learning experience. Rich is a big personality and keeps the kids really engaged, as if the reptiles aren't enough to do so.

Though we have a Sulcata Tortoise, my kids often talk about adopting another reptile, which I'm not opposed to, but we don't take adding a family member to our household lightly, so it may be a while. We'll have to do some more thorough research so we don't end up with a sixty-foot snake by accident. When we do decide to adopt one, I'll be sure to consult Rich before we do.

Do you have a reptile? Tell us about it!

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a dog and his boy: mom photographer documents the first year

It wasn't until I saw the video compilation that I understood the magnitude of what Heidi had done. And it brought me to tears. Every month for the past year, I've seen the adorable photos she's taken of her son, Lincoln, and their dog, Roldy, parade across my Facebook feed. She documented Lincoln's first year with monthly photos, as so many of us crazy parents do, but these photos are unique and touching, even if the kid isn't yours. When I saw them compiled, I smiled and teared up at the same time, and I knew I had to share.

 a dog and his boy: mom photographer documents the first year

a dog and his boy: mom photographer documents the first year

documenting baby's first year with his dog

Heidi took the photos herself (if you check out her blog, you'll see she's quite the creative type), and it's as if Lincoln and Roldy were made to pose together. It would seem to me a recipe for disaster. Let's think about this: baby + dog + costumes? Heidi is a brave soul.

the process

I asked Heidi a few burning questions about how she pulled it off.

wm: How did you get the idea to do this series of photos?

Heidi: We intended on doing the monthly photos with a stuffed animal, and when I was stressing about what stuffed friend to get, my husband suggested using Roldy. Brilliant. And I was upset that I didn't think of it myself. 

wm: It seems like it wold be impossible to get a good shot with all of the unpredictable variables involved. How did you make it happen?

Heidi: I started with low expectations, figuring that I would give it a good effort to get a fun picture out of them, but not to the point where I was upsetting either. And we had a definite strategy in staging things. The camera settings were adjusted on an empty chair so I didn't waste their time. I took the pictures after Lincoln ate and had some time to play, so he was willing to sit for a bit. Roldy doesn't mind clothes or the bow tie, so he got dressed first, then we dressed Lincoln, then set Roldy in the chair, telling him to sit and stay (he already got a treat after getting dressed, so he was super focused). Then we set Lincoln in. Anthony (Heidi's husband) would step to the side, and then I would blast away with the camera while singing something crazy and twangy to get Lincoln's attention. The time spent taking pictures was literally about a minute, and I'd take about twenty shots. Then we'd choose our favorite.

Part of what I love about the first few months is that Lincoln was focused on Roldy for every picture. Maybe it was baby eye development, but I'm going to assume it was puppy love.

wm: How did Roldy behave during the process?

Heidi: After the first few months, when the good camera came out, Roldy became all business and followed me around trying to figure out what I wanted him to do that would earn him some treats. "Sit here? Do you want me over here? How about I sit here? Oh...the bow tie? Let me help!"

I think it was around seven months that I dared to take the pictures by myself. I took Lincoln out of the chair and took off his bow tie and got him changed and ready to go. I turned around, and Roldy was still sitting there in the chair waiting. He's a true professional. 

wm: It sounds like the project was a lot of fun. Was it as fun and easy as you made it look?

I would say it was easy because Lincoln and Roldy are both so easy-going, but, even they would have burned out if everything wasn't ready to go and over after a few minutes. Preparation was key. 

wm: Did Roldy and Lincoln mind wearing all of those costumes?

Heidi: I really tried to size things so that they would be comfortable for Roldy. So I took a normal party hat and made it much thinner (and glued on some felt) so that it would fit on top of Roldy's head. And I sized the elastic for each of them.

Once I realized that they both had great patience and a high tolerance for costumes, I pushed the limits a bit in their outfits, always knowing that things would stop right away if anyone was unhappy. Yes, I may get a perfect photo if I take more time, but it's not going to bring me any joy knowing that the moment was tense and everyone was pissed. I wanted to keep it real.

keeping it real: the outtakes

Heidi definitely kept it real. The photos, though clearly staged, have a naturalness to them, and you can see the personalities in both Roldy and Lincoln. I asked Heidi if she'd be willing to share a few outtakes, and she obliged.

 Not even Roldy could resist that new baby smell when Lincoln was two months old.

Not even Roldy could resist that new baby smell when Lincoln was two months old.

 Roldy goes in for more kisses in Lincoln's third month.

Roldy goes in for more kisses in Lincoln's third month.

 Ever-tolerant Roldy was patient with Lincoln no matter what.

Ever-tolerant Roldy was patient with Lincoln no matter what.

 Perhaps Roldy and Lincoln were discussing a new project for year two!

Perhaps Roldy and Lincoln were discussing a new project for year two!

Heidi also took some fantastic seasonal photos that you must see.

 Roldy and Lincoln celebrate fall in style.

Roldy and Lincoln celebrate fall in style.

 Happy Halloween! Roldy as Zelda and Lincoln as Link.

Happy Halloween! Roldy as Zelda and Lincoln as Link.

 Happy Presidents' Day to you Mr. Lincoln (Roldy) and Mr. Washington (Lincoln).

Happy Presidents' Day to you Mr. Lincoln (Roldy) and Mr. Washington (Lincoln).

 Top o' the mornin' to you! 

Top o' the mornin' to you! 

 Happy Easter from some cute buns. 

Happy Easter from some cute buns. 

don't try this at home

Heidi and her boys did a great job documenting Lincoln's first year, but this type of thing isn't for the faint of heart. She never pushed her dog or her baby to do anything that made them uncomfortable, and she was willing to abandon the project if they didn't like it. You really have to have just the right dog/baby combo, or this could be downright dangerous. Know your dog and, as Heidi did, be sure that he is completely comfortable with the situation. He might get smacked or have his ear pulled...you need to be confident that your dog won't turn on your baby. 

Heidi created fun, meaningful photos that her family will always treasure without torturing her baby or her dog. She placed their comfort first, which is likely one reason she was so successful. 

Have you tried to take photographs with your pets and kids? How did you do?

In addition to being an awesome mom, pet parent, and photographer, Heidi has a wide range of creative talents including mural painting and tailoring, among other things. Check out her blog, and follow her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

All photos taken and owned by Heidi Schatze and are used here with the artist's permission. 

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10 activities to keep your kid and dog occupied this summer

Has summer boredom set in, yet? Are your kid and dog staring at each other looking for something to do? Look no further. Summer is a great time for kids and dogs to play together, and we've come up with some  activity suggestions!

10 activities to keep your kid and dog occupied this summer

1. Enjoy outdoor dining. Whether you choose an at-home BBQ or a pet-friendly restaurant, summer is a great time to take advantage of outdoor dining. Most restaurants that accommodate pets will bring your pooch a bowl of water, and some even have doggie menus! Kids have a great time eating out with their dogs. They can provide each other with entertainment while you wait for your food.

 Dogs and kids love to eat out.

Dogs and kids love to eat out.

2. Paint with water. Painting with water is cheap and easy and can provide hours of fun. All you need is a cup of water and a paintbrush. Your kid can go to town on the patio or sidewalk, and your pooch can cool his paws and make footprints. My daughter absolutely loves this activity. And it doesn't make a mess like paints! 

3. Do crafts. Get your dog involved in summer crafts. Decorate a collar with felt flowers or buttons (make sure they are secure). Press your pooch's paw into a clay piece that your child can paint. Decorate a dog bowl with food-safe paints. If you're feeling really brave, roll out a long sheet of paper or poster board, let your kid and dog walk in paint, then make footprints across the paper. You may end up with a framable masterpiece!

4. Make frozen treats. Make popsicles AND pupsicles. Juice and fruit chunks work great for the kids. For your pooch, you can use a regular popsicle mold, a bowl, or even a kong. As for flavors? Chicken broth with kibble chips, plain yogurt with peanut butter, or even water with chicken bits frozen inside make great pupsicles! Your child will have fun making them and reaping the rewards with your pooch.

5. Go hiking or geocaching. In most parts of the country, summer is a great time to enjoy nature. Explore local hiking trails or take up geocaching, GPS-guided "treasure hunts." Your kids and your dog will love the adventure!

 Go hiking or geocaching.

Go hiking or geocaching.

6. Go swimming or wading. Kids love swimming, and many dogs do, too! Make sure dogs and kids are both comfortable in the water before allowing them to swim together and aways keep safety first. No pool? Get yourself an inexpensive wading pool and let your kids and fur kids splash around to cool off. 

 Chillin' poolside.

Chillin' poolside.

7. Run through the sprinklers. As long as you aren't in a drought zone, running through the sprinklers is an awesome way for kids and pets to cool off together and can provide great exercise, too. Here in Arizona, most of us don't have sprinklers, so we use the garden hose as an alternative. There are even hose attachments specifically designed for this purpose to make things more fun.

8. Find a dog-friendly beach or park. Pet-friendly beaches can be hard to find, but they're out there. Play time by the lake is also a good option. No water nearby? Hit a dog-friendly park. Bring your frisbee and a picnic lunch, and don't forget your doo-doo bags!

 Find a dog-friendly beach or park.

Find a dog-friendly beach or park.

9. Go camping. Kids and pets love the adventure of camping, and many campsites are pet friendly. Enjoy day hikes or just hanging out together enjoying the outdoors. Be sure to remember bowls and food for your pet, as well as a place for him to lay both during the day and for sleeping at night. 

10. Vacation at a pet-friendly hotel. More and more hotels are now accommodating pets, some even making special provisions for them such as pet beds and doggie room service menus. Your kids will love being able to vacation with Fido. You'll need to research policies, because some accommodations do not allow a pet to be left unattended in the room, and some have size restrictions. You may incur an additional fee, but living the high life with your pooch is worth it, right?

Here in Phoenix, we have to be careful with ourselves and our pets during the summer months. Temps can rise up to 120° during the hottest part of the day, so we tend to limit outdoor activities to the early mornings or evenings. In other parts of the country, there may be other conditions to think about. Consider your climate when making activity choices, and consider safety. 

safety tips

Always make sure your kids and dogs are well hydrated. Even when swimming, your dog can become dehydrated, so be sure to provide a fresh bowl of water before, during, and after any activity.

Avoid the hottest part of the day, and keep in mind that your dog's paws are sensitive to the hot ground. If it's too hot for you to walk barefoot, then your pet shouldn't, either. 

Wear sunscreen! Kids AND dogs should wear sunscreen when outdoors for a prolonged period. Light-colored and short-haired breeds especially need protection. Special attention should be paid to areas of the skin not covered in fur. Use a pet-safe sunscreen in case your pooch decides to lick the area where it is applied.

Dogs with sort muzzles such as pugs and bulldogs are more prone to heatstroke due to the fact that it is harder for them to breathe. This can be made worse by hot temperatures, so take special caution not to overexert these dogs.

Always supervise children and pets around water.

Please pick up after your pooch. Aside from just being gross, poo left behind is unhealthy. Plus, when people leave their dog's "presents" behind, places are less-likely remain be pet-friendly.

Above all, have a blast summering it up!! How to you plan to keep your kid and dog occupied this summer?

This article, written by me, originally appeared on Brie Brie Blooms and is reposted here with minor changes with permission.

 

keeping your dog safe around the pool

We think about pool safety when it comes to our human children, but pool safety for dogs is often overlooked. The water can be enticing for most breeds, and it can be just as dangerous for them as it is for our children.

It is with great sadness that I share a recent tragedy with you. One of my pet sitting clients, Renee*, lost not one, but two, dogs to drowning in the past two weeks. Neither dog had ever been near their pool, and neither dog had shown the slightest bit of interest in the water prior to their drownings. When she told me about the passing of the first dog, I was heartbroken for her family. But when she told me about the second just a few days later, it was almost too much to bear. Both dogs were short-muzzled, elderly, and the home did not have a pool fence. Since there are no children in the home, the couple didn't feel the need for one. They have other pets. Renee says that they are installing a pool fence. She said, "I will never ever assume anyone is safe around the pool again. So tell your other pet parents do not let your pets near an open pool. If it is not fenced, then you need to be with them. Watching them."

Wait. What? Don't dogs naturally know how to swim?

Yes and no. Unlike humans, all dogs are genetically programmed to paddle in water. It's a survival skill, but it's not "swimming." Some dogs are naturals in the water, but some can't swim at all. If you have a dog and you have a pool, it's critical that you protect your pooch. Here are some things to consider:

first thing's first. who can't swim?

Though all dogs will paddle in water, some really can't swim based on anatomy. Dogs who aren't water friendly are:

dogs with short muzzles: Dogs with short muzzles such as Pugs and Pekingese are unable to hold their heads in a position to take on air instead of water. They are not good candidates for swimming.

dogs with short legs in proportion to their bodies: Dachshunds and similar breeds and mixes have a really difficult time paddling and staying afloat.

dogs with heavy heads: Perhaps the most important type of dog to steer clear of the water. Bulldogs' heads, for example, will quickly sink to the bottom of a pool. 

So how can these types of dogs be part of the family pool party? If they are going to be around the pool, it's important that they wear a life vest. There are vests made just for dogs in all shapes and sizes. Another great idea for cooling off is a kiddie pool. Just a couple of inches that your pooch can lie in is a great way to include him in the fun. 

all dogs and dog owners need to learn about pool safety

If you have a pool and you have a dog, chances are, he'll fall in at some point. He needs to know what do do.

 Make sure your dog knows where and how to safely exit the pool.

Make sure your dog knows where and how to safely exit the pool.

Whether you plan to swim with your dog frequently, or you're simply wanting her to be safe around the pool, it is important to teach your dog how to get out of the pool. Your dog needs to know where to get out, whether it's a graduated entry, steps, or ladder. Teach your pooch to swim there, first, and make sure she can get out on her own. If she knows where to go to get out and how to get out, odds are, even if she falls in unexpectedly, she'll be able to navigate to that spot and get herself out. If she doesn't know, she may struggle against a side of the pool she can't get out of, eventually leading to exhaustion and drowning. There are special steps and ramps designed to make pool entry and exit easier for dogs, so if your pooch struggles with getting in and out of your pool, it's wise to look into these options.

Learn pet CPR. Though the idea is the same, pet CPR is quite different than human CPR. One basic difference is that CPR for dogs is done with the dog laying on it's side. Pet CPR courses are offered, and it's a great thing for any pet parent to take. I took mine at PetTech

Teach your dog to swim. Swimming can be great exercise for dogs in good cardiovascular health, so be sure your water-loving pooch knows how to do it properly. One reason it's important for your dog to know how to swim properly is so he is calm in the water. A panicked or fearful dog may bite if you try to assist him in the pool. If he's calm and confident, he won't panic. Some dog trainers offer swim lessons.

We've all been told to wait to swim thirty minutes after eating to prevent cramping. Though that myth has pretty much been thrown out the window for humans, it holds true for dogs. Dogs–especially large breeds–are at risk for bloat if they swim on a full stomach. Allow your pooch time to digest her meal before swimming.

Be mindful of underwater pool features. Dogs may jump onto features beneath the surface of the water such as built-in stools or platforms, which can result in serious injury, such as broken bones.  It's best not to have these types of features if your dog likes to swim, but, if that can't be avoided, be sure to steer your dog away from these features. Also be sure to remove pool vacuums before allowing your dog to swim. Dogs can become tangled in the tubing and risk drowning.

Though a refreshing splash in the pool can be great for water-loving dogs, hot tubs are a big no-no. Dogs can't tolerate the heat of a hot tub. 

Remember that pool decks may become hot, especially during the summer months. If the deck is to hot for your feet, it is too hot for your dog's feet. Be sure you provide an area of shade where your pooch can stand so he doesn't burn his paws.

Some dogs like to lap out of the pool, but chlorinated water isn't really healthy for your pooch, especially in large quantities. Provide a fresh bowl of water next to the pool so your dog can stay hydrated.

No matter what, never leave your pet unattended around a pool. You should treat your pet as you would a small child. Pool fencing is an excellent idea. Make sure it is tall enough to keep your pet out, as some dogs will attempt to scale fences to access a pool. 

clean up after a swim session

After you're done swimming for the day, remove all toys from the pool. This includes dog toys as well as human toys. If left in the pool, they become temptations, especially for water-loving dogs. You don't want your dog to try to reach a toy in the pool when he is unattended, so it's best to remove these things to be safe.

Wash and dry your dog. If your pool is chlorinated, rinse your dog of with the hose or a shower. Not only is chlorine a chemical that shouldn't be allowed to sit on the skin, it can be very drying to your pet's skin and coat. It's also a good idea to dry your dog's ears thoroughly after a swim to remove excess moisture and keep the ears healthy.

know your dog and make swimming a fun activity

Though there is a lot to consider regarding pool safety for dogs, swimming should be an enjoyable activity you can share with your pooch, and it is an excellent low-impact exercise because it puts very little strain on your pet's joints. If your pooch loves to swim, go for it. A dog who doesn't like the water should never be forced to swim. f your dog doesn't like the water, it's still important to teach basic safety such as where to exit if she falls in.  

Does your dog like to swim? Do you plan to swim with your dog this summer?

This article, written by me, originally appeared on Brie Brie Blooms and is reposted here with minor changes with permission.

* Names have been changed.