When is it time to say goodbye?

I was hoping that I would not be faced with having to decide if and when I should put my dog to sleep. My dog, Carmina, is 15 years old and has been fighting osteosarcoma for about a year.  Now, it finally seems to be getting the better of her.  I simply cannot decide what is best.  Let her go naturally or have her put to sleep at home.  Just the words “euthanized,” and “put down” make me cringe.  On the other side, as she starts to have a harder time to breathe, it hurts me to think of her dying from lack of oxygen.

Right now, she is resting comfortably.  She still barks when I come home, she still eats like a pig, and can walk very short distances on her own.  I do have to carry her across the house and to the yard, as she get winded and weak very quickly. She lost 10 lbs since the cancer took hold and is now only 50lbs, but lifting her is still difficult.

I asked my vet for guidance, and he told me, “Go with your gut. Your gut is always right.”  That is probably the best advice anyone can give.  I take it day by day.  I watch her, then listen to my gut.  Today, it says not yet.

I don’t think my heart yet understands what my head knows, that time with my girl is short.  Probably only days.  I wish she could tell me what to do, and what she wants.  Or maybe she is, and that is what my gut tells me.  For tonight, I’ll tell her goodnight and see what the morning brings.


Life with Pets! Finally a pet boutique in Tyler, Texas

Life with PetsTyler was long overdue for a specialty pet store, so hearing that one opened was a pleasant surprise!  This is even better now that PetLand in Tyler changed ownership and went to the dark side.  I refuse to support a pet store that engages in puppy sales.

Life with Pets is a small store, but the owner, Pam is extremely knowledgeable about pet nutrition and can help point you to quality food, treats, and supplements, including the PetGenix holistic line.  She also has a great selection of toys and other products that you can’t find at the other stores.  QUALITY MATTERS!  PetsMart is basically a Wal-Mart for pets, carrying large numbers of low quality items.  Small boutique pet stores like Life with Pets are gems.

I’ll be taking Cosmo by next time to try on a Lupine collar.  She’s got a great one with a peacock feather design that I think will look great on him!

If you are like me and want the best for your dog or cat, you must go to this store!

It’s next to Hastings and my favorite groom shop, Snobby Dog Spa!

Life with Pets
4007 S. Broadway, Ste. E
Tyler, Texas 75701
(903) 714-2172


Puppy conquers the Brazos River

Every puppy will encounter some situation at some point that intimidates them. Cosmo’s big one happened to be crossing the Brazos River at Dinosaur Valley State Park.

The first time I took Cosmo to the river and started hopping rocks across it, he made a scene! He whined and yipped trying to get his courage up to follow me, but he finally did. He made such a scene as we were walking people were saying “Oh! So you’re the one who was throwing a fit!” He’s a very confident puppy and despite all his loud complaining, I knew he would do it; all I had to do was go first.

And each time I hopped across after that he got better and better. The last try was no big deal!

Best dog shoes for senior dogs

Getting dog boots for my senior dog Carmina has proved to be the difference between her being able to walk or not.  Effectively, dog boots have extended her life because without them she would be unable to move about the house.  This would not be the case if my house had carpet throughout, but since the majority of the house is hardwood, without traction she was unable to walk without falling.

After several months using dog boots, I have determined that the ultra paws DURABLE dog boots are the best for senior dogs indoors.

Ultra paws also makes one called “Traction” supposedly to prevent indoor slipping, however I am staying with the durable version. The reason is I found the two straps on the ankle keep the boots on more securely without rubbing sores onto the ankles.

I purchased an extra durable, super traction RUFFWEAR dog boot from REI to try as well.

The Ruffwear boots have super traction that she could get up from any floor with, however in order to keep them from coming off, I had to really tighten the single strap. Doing this caused sores to rub on her ankles. Plus the hard traction causes the boot to be less flexible and harder on weak legs.  The two strap Ultra Paws really is the right combination of comfort and traction to allow the dog to wear these boots daily.

As you can also see, after 6 months of constant use the Ultra Paws are worn out and I am buying new ones.

Snobby Dog Spaw in Tyler, Texas – Cosmo loves his groomer!

Cosmo at the Snobby Dog Spaw

Cosmo kissing on Nicole

Following in Lizzie’s paw prints, Cosmo also goes to Snobby Dog Spaw for his beauty needs!  I now live in Plano, but I bring Cosmo back to Tyler with me when I come in town.  While I go run my errands, Cosmo happily hangs out at the Spaw!  Just as they were with Lizzie, they are wonderful with Cosmo.  Bringing a puppy to Snobby Dog is the best thing for their puppy education.  They have a wonderful, positive experience and learn to be handled easily by others.  It’s just excellent!  Cosmo already lets Nicole Drimmel his nails, wash him, and dry him.

As you can see, he LOVES him some Nicole!

If you have never gone, tell Nicole Cosmo sent you!



Snobby Dog Spaw
4007 S Broadway Ave
Tyler, TX 75701
(903) 581-2834

Playgrounds for Puppy Training! Build puppy confidence!

Cosmo at playgroundPlayground equipment at your local park is a great way to expose your puppy to new experiences and build his confidence!  When Cosmo was just 8 weeks old, I started walking onto the playground equipment and letting him follow me.


The moving bridges and grated pathways are especially good to get them accustomed to.  Cosmo was born a confident pup, so he had no problem with the wobbly bridge and walking across the grated bridge even from the beginning.




Cosmo on playground


With a less confident pup, just walk across and let them build up the courage to follow. Don’t drag them onto anything that scares them.  Use food to lure if needed and just keep exposing them to the “scary” thing until they realize it just isn’t so scary!


Self Serve Dog Wash – Dirty Dawgz, Plano

I was so excited to find self serve dog washes a few years ago!  I don’t like to wash my dogs in the yard with a hose.  It’s just no fun; and in the winter, it’s just not an option!  But my idea of good smells and clean is very different from my dogs’.  And sometimes, they find some mud to play in.

In the DFW area there are a few I know about.  In the Plano area, I have used Dirty Dawgz several

Cosmo's first bath!

Cosmo’s first bath!

times since it is close.  Price wise, the best value there is to buy 6 baths at once (about $14 a bath) if you know you will use it.  It’s very basic, but when you just want to wash your dog, it works!  Cosmo had his first bath at Dirty Dawgz in Plano.  The ladies working there were super nice and helped me cut his nails and take his picture too!

I tried Urban Dog on N. Haskell in Dallas once in the past with Lizzie.  They were really nice and let me squeeze in at the last minute.  I’ll have to try them again with Cosmo sometime on the way back from training.

I also went to the Mutt Puddle in Allen once. They are similar to Dirty Dawgz, but a little nicer inside.


Dallas Bishop Arts District – Dog friendly!

Dog Friendly Dallas Bishop Arts DistrictCosmo and I have driven down a few times now to visit the Bishop Arts district in Dallas.  A friend of mine lives near there and introduced the area to me.  It’s not a large area, but there are a lot of dog friendly places in the few blocks to walk to.  There is a chocolate shop with some DELICIOUS chocolates and dog friendly people inside.  They welcomed Cosmo in to say hello while my friend bought some delicious dark chocolate.

Cafe Brazil Bishop Arts bored dog

Bored Cosmo


Then there are several dog friendly patios there as well.  While Café Brazil is dog friendly, there is no entrance to the patio from the outside.  When Cosmo was a little smaller, I simply lifted him over the wall.  Now, I don’t think so.  So for bigger dog owners, this may not be a good option.  This particular time, the service was a little poor.  As in super slow.  After 45 minutes waiting for our food, poor little Cosmo was just bored!


Dog Friendly Patio at Gloria's



My favorite so far is Gloria’s. They have a HUGE dog friendly patio and great food! Their chipscome with salsa and bean dip…yummy!  I got the cevice tostadas which were great.  Good food and dog friendly!  I will be going back.  The parking is valet only, but they’re happy to let you get your dog out before they park your car.






Lucky Dog Book Store

Cosmo at the Lucky Dog Book Store


And don’t forget to visit the aptly named Lucky Dog Bookstore!  Again, I was surprised that I didn’t have to wait outside for my friend.  Cosmo was welcome!  It’s a great old building that used to be a bowling alley.  Lots of books and music to peruse!


All in all, Bishop Arts is a great, fun, place to go with your dog!

Exploring Dog Friendly Activities in Farmersville!


Main Street in Farmersville


Today I took Cosmo to do some exploring in Farmersville, Texas.  While I did not find any dog friendly restaurant patios, there were some nice things outdoors for us.  Downtown Farmersville is very cute, though small, and we enjoyed walking around and window browsing.




Heading down the street a block or so from Main Street, we ran across The Onion Shed.  It is called The Onion Shed because in 1925 they began planting onions in Farmersville, and by 1935, Farmersville was known as the “Onion Capital of North Texas.”  The Onion Shed, restored in 2002, was where they sacked the onions for shipping.

The sign in front says that the farmers market is there the first Saturday of each month.  We’ll have to come back!  Next to the Onion Shed is a playground with picnic tables, and there are picnic tables under the roof of the Onion Shed as well.  That would be a great place to take a break with your pooch and have something to eat.



Right behind the Onion Shed I found a trail head to a 132 mile long hiking trail that goes through East Texas.  (see entire trail map here) I had read about it Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine while waiting for my car at a tire shop, (click here to see article).    The article’s author walked the whole trail in 6 days and ended his journey with a new dog.  The stray followed him over 100 miles!  Needless to say he has a new best friend.

The is called the Chaparral Trail, beginning at the Audie L. Murphy trail head right behind the Onion Shed.  The trail starts in Farmersville and goes all the way to New Boston.  It looks like there is a shorter 10 mile loop that you can do, but I didn’t come prepared with water for Cosmo, so we just walked a small part of the trail.  (more trail infor here).

In the fall when Cosmo is older and it’s cooler, I will try to snag a friend to join me to hike at least a good part of the Northeast Texas trail!


SIDENOTE:  I was concerned that the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding former government railway easments would no longer be valid as public access easements may have cause this trail to close.  I found an article addressing the issue and apparently as of right now, the trail is still open to the public!

Fighting Canine Osteosarcoma Holistically: Dog Cancer Survival

x-ray of osteosarcoma

x-ray of osteosarcoma

In August last year, my 14 year old dog, Carmina suddenly went lame. I took her into the vet where they x-rayed her leg.  Nothing really showed except a small spot that the vet thought could possibly be osteosarcoma.  He wasn’t totally sure since it was only a tiny spot, so he said if she didn’t improve or became lame again, bring her back in.


She stopped limping after a day, and the whole word “osteosarcoma” slipped from my mind.  However, she started to pace during the night, barking, and panting.  I couldn’t sleep, and it was getting frustrating.  The vet thought it may be onset of canine dementia, but the medication didn’t seem to be helping.  Then, she went lame again.


osteosarcoma visible in x-ray

osteosarcoma visible in x-ray

The next x-ray revealed that the small spot from a couple months ago had already eaten through the bone at about the ankle in her left front leg.  Suddenly everything made sense.  Now I understood why she kept biting off only her left bootie.  Why she was pacing and panting.  She was in PAIN!  Her leg was amputated the next day and then sent for a biopsy.  The results came back quickly as the aggressive and deadly osteosarcoma.  The prognosis was poor for her surviving more than a couple months.


I took her to my holistic vet, and we started a holistic treatment plan.  I change her diet based on the recommendations in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide my vet recommended, and switched her to only filtered water.  I soon switched ALL my dogs to filtered water and off commercial dog food.


Four months after her leg was amputated (now 15 years old), Carmina started to cough.  This time x-rays revealed a few lesions in her lungs, and the usual prognosis would be a month or two more to live.  Again, I went to the holistic vet and we upped the holistic treatments a bit.


Within a week, the coughing stopped, but she suddenly swelled up and stopped walking.  I actually thought it was the end and tearfully made an appointment for home euthanasia.  Then, my vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory to try to see if she just needed a little help.  Sure enough, the next day I woke up and Carmina was up and hopping to the door!!!


Three legs and doing well

Three legs and doing well

What appears to have happened is that the treatment was a little TOO successful and her body fought back so hard against the cancer that toxins were released in large amounts into her body, overwhelming her system.  The anti-inflammatory just gave her the boost she needed to get back on her feet.


I credit her continued survival and good quality of life and mobility to our holistic vet, the dietary changes, and the Petgenix Hip & Joint blend that keeps the need for Rimadyl away!

DFW Dog Trainer: Aggressive dogs welcome

In-home Dog Training
Stan Covington
TEL: 682-465-7920

Stan Covington and Ali

Stan and Ali


Do you live in the DFW area and need one-on-one help with your dog? Stan Covington has competed on the national level in the demanding sport of Schutzhund. Stan does in-home consults and training, as well as board and trains. His board and train service is based on availability. Unlike many trainers, Stan will also handle aggressive dogs.


When I had my first dog, I could not find trainers who would help with aggression. As soon as I said my dog was extremely dog aggressive, that was the end of the conversation. So, if you are on a similar quest for help, call Stan.


I know Stan from the working dog club where I train with my dog Cosmo! He has been a wonderful friend and mentor, helping me get into the demanding sport of Schutzhund.



Introducing Cosmo vom Dopheide!

Cosmo's first 10 minutes at home

Cosmo’s first 10 minutes at home

At the end of November, the big day finally came.  Cosmo was coming home!  It seemed to be the longest seven weeks ever waiting for him to be ready to come home.  Once I got him home and opened up his kennel in the back yard, the little guy just popped right out like he had lived there all along!  He never missed a beat.  I’m so glad to have him!

Cosmo on the right with the white spot

Cosmo on the right with the white spot

Choosing my new puppy!

GSD litter and momNine months after Lizzie passed, I was finally ready to try again with another pup. You can never replace a dog, and each dog is unique. I had to wait until I was ready to accept a dog that wasn’t Lizzie, and not before.

On September 27, 2013, I was sitting at brunch with friends from the working dog club, discussing the possibility of getting a new german shepherd puppy. Then, my friend mentioned that litter had just been born the day before from one of the club females. 10 puppies! Five males and five females. The father is Ike von der Donauvorstadt , imported from Germany for a limited breeding, and the mother is Bhairavi vom Dopheide, one of the club dogs.  Was I ready for a working pup? It’s a big committment! I decided yes and the next day my deposit for a male pup was in the mail. I would get the second pick after the breeder. She was going to keep one male and one female from the litter.

Cosmo's litter

Cosmo’s litter

It was so exciting seeing the pictures of the pup grow up, and going to visit from time to time to see who the front runner may be. My friend Stan was helping me evaluate the puppies as well. From our first visit, the “yellow boy” stood out to him. (Yellow being the collar color by which the puppies are distinguished) I was too overwhelmed with puppy to be able to choose!

Cosmo vom dopeide

Cosmo vom dopeide

Our final pick was made at the training field. There, yellow boy definitely stood out for us. When food was sprinkled into the grass, he never picked up his head to quit looking for more food. When we took three of the males away from the litter to see how they reacted to the rag, yellow boy was the only one who stayed to wrestle with the rag…the other two ran back to the litter. Then and there, yellow boy was dubbed “Cosmo”!

A few days later, I would be able to pick him up and take him home. And my house would be chaos once again. Just the way I like it. ☺

No more slipping on hardwood floors!

Ultra Paws Dog BootsI have to share this because it has made such a huge improvement in my dog’s quality of life! As my 14 year old, 65lb dog, Carmina, has gotten older, her hips have gotten weaker. As they have gotten weaker, she started to slip and fall on the hardwood floors. It really killed me to see it happen. Not only did it hurt her, I could see the frustration and helplessness in her expression. Once she was down, she couldn’t get up either. It was awful. I searched the web for solutions, other than carpeting over the whole house, and I found these dog booties. I ordered them, and they have proved PRICELESS!

What they give the dog is TRACTION. I started with all four booties, but she took off one of the Dog shoesfront ones. Then I realized it was really the back two feet that needed the help, so I rotate them out. I’ll have two on her while washing the other two. I take them off when we go outside for short walks. She no longer falls and it gives her enough traction that if she lays down on the floor in the kitchen, she is able to get back up. I don’t know that all the booties are created equal. This particular brand is great. I didn’t try others, but I can say that these definitely worked!

My yard smells like dog pee

I’ve moved to a new house and I guess the layout has made this problem noticeable.  I assume it was doing the same thing at my old house, but there was no patio and I didn’t go outside much, so I guess I didn’t notice.  Now, I notice.  Carmina, the 14yr old female, now doesn’t seem to have the energy to go far into the yard to do her business, so she pees in the grass right next to the patio.  The amount of pee has created a nasty odor right where I want to be sitting!

After googling and googling…this is the only thing I can find.  NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator.  Ordering now!  I’ll update when I see if it takes care of the problem…


UPDATE:  Didn’t really work as I had hoped.  Covered it up for a couple days but the stench came back with a vengance!  I’ll keep looking…I’d like to try SCOE10X, but it’s a little pricey for me now.