Visit Pet Friendly Ames, Iowa

Why Iowa? you might ask. Here at Petswelcome, we think the most fun destinations are those you might not know much about. And when we’re looking for pet-friendly places to take our pets, we like to head to destinations that might not be on everyone’s shortlist. But here are a few things you might not have known about Iowa. The National Hobo Convention takes place in Iowa. And if anyone knows great destinations, my guess it would be hobos. Also, hogs outnumber people four to one. To my mind, that means they love animals, which is always a good thing. Ames also has the highest literacy rate in the country (awesome!). And the Eskimo Pie was invented there. What’s not to like? Ames, in particular, has some great things going for it, namely Iowa State University, which is home to the College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the premier vet schools in the country. A college town with a mission to keep animals healthy? It’s time to head to pet-friendly Ames, Iowa!

High Trestle Bridge
High Trestle Bridge

Whenever we arrive in a town, we look for some pet-friendly bars and restaurants to chill out with our pooches. Ames doesn’t disappoint. Check out the Mucky Duck Pub. It’s decorated like an old English pub and has a dog-friendly patio. And we recommend trying their Odd Duck Ale. Very tasty. Also, check out The Café for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Of course, we’re always looking for food trucks because they often serve up fantastic specialty or ethnic foods and pets are usually welcome at the nearby tables. If you’re into Mexican food, Tacos La Michoacana  should be on your list of trucks to track down.

Iowa Arboretum
Iowa Arboretum

As far as activities with your favorite animal, head over to the Ames Dog Park. It’s a 10-acre park divided into two sections—a fenced-in area for small dogs and an 8-acre section for larger dogs (you will need a rabies vaccination certificate to use the park). Also stop by pet-friendly Iowa Arboretum, located on 415 acres in nearby Madrid (28 miles away). It contains hundreds of species of trees, plants and shrubs in a lovely setting and has plenty of trails for you and your dog to enjoy.

We love rail trails—they’re a great way to get some exercise with your best buddy and they usually run through beautiful natural areas as well as historic towns. To that end you might want to take a half hour drive from Ames to Ankeny, IA, to visit the High Trestle Trail. It’s worth the drive. The trail is 25 miles long and runs through five towns and four counties. Part of the trail includes a 13-story high bridge that crosses the Des Moines River Valley. It is one of the longest trestle bridges in the world.

Finally, you’re going to need a pet friendly hotel. Ames has plenty. There is Radisson Hotel Ames Conference Center, Quality Inn & Suites Starlite Village Conference Center, Econo Lodge, and Microtel In & Suites, as well as many others.

So pack your bags, book your room, grab your pooch and head to pet-friendly Ames, Iowa. We think you’ll be surprised, pleased and very glad you took a road less traveled to discover a wonderful city.

Great Father’s Day Gifts for Your Dog-Loving Dad

We all know how happy the dog makes dad. So why not get him a Father’s Day gift that involves his favorite canine? It’s guaranteed to be a winner and he’ll be absolutely thrilled! (I hope my kids are reading this….) So, with Father’s Day right around the corner, Petswelcome has come up with a list of gifts that I, er, I mean, your Dad would love to receive. They cover all budgets and range from traditional to new-fangled, from practical to fun.

A Father’s Day Card

Okay. I know. Boring! But it’s the thought that counts. And, speaking as a dad myself, I know how happy cards make me. They show that someone remembered and, when you think about it, that’s the most important thing. You can just go down to your local store and pick one up or get one on-line, one that makes it seem as if it came from the dog, like this ecard or go traditional with a real paper card. Either way, your dad will be very happy.

lab bookends

Lab Bookends

Is your father a reader? If so this is a wonderful gift. And, if you want to stick a few books between them, here are three of our favorites: The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs, Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs and our absolute favorite, Dogs which is a big beautiful book full of nothing but tons of vintage photographs of dogs in all kinds of settings.

pint glass

Hair of the Dog Pint Glass

Does your dad like a good pint of IPA every once and a while? Or some other craft beer. Or even an ice-cold Bud or PBR? Then this is the gift for him. I guarantee it will be his go-to glass (it can even be personalized) whenever he’s in the mood for some refreshment.

blueprint of dog

Dog Blueprints

Here’s a unique gift if your dad has an artistic bent. It’s an old-style framed blueprint of many different breeds that give “design specs” about the dog’s physical attributes, as well as its origins and temperament. Best of all these can also be personalized to have your dog’s name included on the print.

cognition

Dognition Assessment 

This is one of our favorites because it helps you really understand your dog. You’ll be able to play games designed by dog experts that will assess your dog’s cognition with regard to empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. Sounds like a great way to spend some time: playing with your best buddy while getting to know him or her on a much deeper level. We’re sure your dad will agree. The rumor is that they’re working on another one called Teenition, which does the same assessment for your teenager, though, so far, they haven’t made any progress. None. Zilch.

wisdom panel

Wisdom Panel

You’ve probably heard of DNA tests for humans, such as 23andMe, well, this one is for canines. There are two versions, one that will screen for genetic health conditions, as well as breed detection and trait analysis, and another less expensive one that focuses just on breed identification and trait analysis. A great way to find out more about your dog’s ancestry, physical traits and more.

Cambria Shores Inn
Cambria Shores Inn

Weekend with the Whole Family

Yes, we know this is a splurge. But since we deal with pet-friendly hotels and lodgings, we also know how great a family get away can be with your pet. And we’re sure dad would be floored if you planned a trip for all of you. The bottom line is that it doesn’t have to be that expensive. Go to a great place like the Cambria Shores Inn, a 25 room pet-friendly inn on the beach in Cambria, CA. Or you could hit a La Quinta for two nights (they don’t charge a pet fee and most allow up to two large dogs) or a Motel 6 (same policy) and you could all be together and have some wonderful downtime.  What could be better?

link akc

Link AKC

Speaking of getting away, many times when you take a dog on a trip with you, your dog doesn’t get enough exercise or you cannot be sure it does. But get a Link AKC (which is a dog activity monitor) and you’ll be able to know that your dog reaches its necessary daily level of activity. And, if your dad is an outdoor type and prefers to take his dog on long walks off leash in natural settings such as local preserves and parks, this would also be a great gift because not only does it sound temperature alerts and track activity, it also has GPS capabilities to give him peace of mind that his best friend won’t get lost.  If the GPS capability is more important, then you can also check Petswelcome’s article on the Best Pet GPS Trackers  to find out which ones we recommend.

No matter what you decide to do, be sure to spoil your dad and have a wonderful Father’s Day.

What I Miss About My Cats

As a kid growing up, I was surrounded only by dogs. There was a strong anti-cat prejudice in my family that I regrettably adopted. But when I moved out and started my own family and bought a house, suddenly the cats started appearing. I never set out to own them. They seemed to find me. Our first, Jill, came when the previous owners of the house left her behind. After that my kids would rescue them or, once, I found two, Juno and Blackberry, abandoned in the park near me when I was walking the dog.

Jill the cat
Our first cat, Jill.

Eventually, there were always at least two cats around and they worked their way into my day-to-day life, though always a bit on the fringes (they all were indoor/outdoor cats), quietly doing weird and crazy things on the periphery of my vision. At the same time, though, one would suddenly appear on my lap and cuddle and show great affection toward me and I finally began to understand what cats were really about. They were simultaneously lovable and distinctly odd, but also funny and never boring. And so we put up with the scratched furniture and the dead animals left at our door (and sometimes brought into our house) and the coughed-up hairballs because cats had become part of the fabric of our lives and taught us something wonderful about being weird and, in their own way, devoted.

Juno the cat
Juno.

Eventually, though, the kids grew up and we suddenly had no cats left. And I thought, OK, let’s regroup and do without them for a while. But life got boring. And mundane. And logical. That’s when I found Simon’s Cat on YouTube which seems to perfectly capture everything we went through with our cats. And suddenly I understood that my life is now less interesting, and I felt a pang, and I began to realize what I miss about my cats.

Lily the cat
Lily.

For example, now I wake up every morning by just opening my eyes and getting out of bed. How boring is that? And then I take a shower and when I come out of the shower, everything is where it should be. And then, instead of feeding the cat, I walk to my office and work uninterrupted for 5 hours. And, instead of taking a break and playing with the cat, which I realize was the only time I felt vicariously alive, I  feed the fish who seem less traumatized now there are no cats, peeking their little fish heads out from behind the plastic castle fairly confident that they won’t see a cat. But are never really sure.

The truth is, is that I miss watching fights with household appliances. And watching cats mess with boxes. Or playing with birds. And doing all the crazy ass things that cats do. And so, I’ve decided to get another one and am really looking forward to it. Yes, I’m going to get another cat. If not today, tomorrow. Or, I’m sure, most probably, without a doubt, the day, definitely, after that.

Or, most likely, I’ll just keep on watching Simon’s Cat and let Simon have all the fun.

And remember, if you hang with a cat (or cats) and love to take them with you when you hit the road, be sure to check out Petswelcome’s dedicated Cats page, which will help you find hotels that welcome these wonderful animals.

 

How to Walk Through a Hotel Lobby with Your Dog

I don’t know about you but whenever I enter the doors to walk through a hotel lobby with my dog, my heart starts pounding, my hands get sweaty and I hear the theme song from Jaws coursing through my ears. That’s because one of the big challenges when traveling with a dog, at least for me, is getting through the public areas of hotels to my room with as few “incidents” as possible. Having many times walked through the “minefield,” as we affectionately call the lobby stroll, a few of us at Petswelcome got together to come up with some commonsense advice on how to reduce the chance of anything going wrong.

1. If your dog is not used to being around crowds or even a few strangers, make sure you take him out to socialize before you leave on your trip. Bring him over to a willing neighbor’s house or to a local pet store so he can adjust and get comfortable with the idea of being indoors among people and dogs and pets he isn’t familiar with.

2. Even though it might be tempting, if there’s just one person traveling, never leave your dog in the car while you check in. There are too many things that can go wrong. You might think you’ll be back out in a few minutes but you can’t be sure and it’s not worth something happening to your dog while you’re gone.

3. If you’re about to check in and there is another person traveling with you, have that person stay in the car with the dog or walk them around the parking lot while you get the room. That will allow you to scope out the situation and ask the front desk if there is another, less public, entry for your pet to use during your stay.

right way and wrong way to enter a hotel lobby with a dog

 

4. If you have a small dog, it’s best to carry it in a crate when you initially enter the hotel, rather than using a leash. When your dog is in a crate, it is totally safe and protected. And you are in full control. This will allow you to keep your mind on whatever you need to be doing without having to worry, whether it be checking in or asking the concierge or front desk attendant relevant questions about your stay.

5. If you have a large dog, we recommend using a dog harness, which will give you more control than a leash connected to a collar. We have seen uncooperative dogs slip out of their collars many times to run free in places they shouldn’t be running free. Dogs in harnesses respond well to the gentle pressure that you can apply, allowing for much easier handling, even in crowded conditions. Remember, a straight line is the shortest distance to your intended goal. A harness will help you achieve that straight line.

6. Always have treats and toys on hand. There’s nothing that keeps a dog’s attention more focused than a beef treat or favorite chew toy. When I’m walking through a lobby with my dog, I let him know I have a treat in my hand, which keeps him concentrated on me and not on the other guests around us. The chew toy comes in handy during check-in while I’m exchanging information and getting my room card. He’s so busy at my feet with the toy that the attendant sometimes doesn’t even seem to notice that I have a dog with me.

The bottom line is you know your dog best. Whatever comforts and occupies his or her attention should be part of the arsenal you use when passing through the hotel lobby and/or ensuring a quick and successful check-in.

Great Savings for Pet Friendly Senior Travel

Man and dog on beach

Are you older than 50 and thinking of taking a trip with your pet? If so, it’s a great time for pet friendly senior travel. That’s because many of the large hotel chains are offering savings opportunities that you should take advantage of. And, hey, if you’re in your 50s and early 60s and don’t think of yourself as a senior yet,  just consider it a baby boomer discount.

First, with regard to the numbers, AARP reports that Americans own 305 million cats and dogs, which is an increase of 85 million pets over the past decade. According to AARP, those 50 or older account for sixty percent of that growth. And since older owners are more likely to be divorced, widowed, separated or to live alone, their pets often play a more prominent role in their lives, including when they travel.

Cat in man's lap

Hotel chains understand this and offer many discounts to this demographic. While most of them are geared to people 62 and older, there are some chains that offer discounts to pet owners in their 50s as well. The key to is to be a savvy shopper. You will often get a better discount by just being a member in a rewards program offered by a particular chain so, if you travel regularly, that is an option to consider. Also, you should check whether you can “stack” discounts. For example, if you’re a military veteran and over 62, find out if you get both discounts or are only able to choose the one that offers the largest savings. As with everything, doing your homework will pay off with regard to the money you save.

Here are six popular hotel chains and the discounts they offer:

Best Western

You can save 10% or more on room rates at Best Western if you are 55 or older. The discount is not available at all Best Westerns and is subject to availability, so be sure to enquire before you book your room. Proof of age will be required at check-in.

Choice Hotels

You can save up to 10% with Choice Hotels (which includes Comfort Inns, Quality Inns, Sleep Inns and many others). Choice offers a tiered program depending on your age, from 50 to 55 to 60+. Choice Hotels also offers a Senior Travelers email newsletter that you can subscribe to to find out the latest specials and promotions for that age group.

InterContinental Hotels Group

IHG is made up of many popular brands such as Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts among others. If you are 62 years old or older, you may be entitled to get a discounted room rate at any participating hotel. Check each property for availability.

La Quinta

If you are 65 and older, you can get special savings at La Quinta Inns & Suites. La Quinta stipulates the discount may not be used together with any other offer or discounted rates. Seniors can get discounted rates not only in participating hotels in the U.S. and Canada, but also at LQ Hotel in Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras.

Motel 6

People 60 years or older are entitled to a special 10% Senior Rate discount at each of their 1,300 plus locations. The discount can be applied to a maximum of two rooms for six consecutive nights per stay. Proof of age must presented at check-in.

Red Roof Inns

If you are 59+, you can save 10% year round. Restrictions are based on availability and age status will verified at check-in, so be sure to have your ID.

Stay tuned to the Weekly Bone to find more hotel-related discounts in future articles.

 

 

How to Use Petswelcome’s Pet-Friendly Trip Planner

Beagle on Road Trip

One of Petswelcome’s most popular features is our Pet-friendly Trip Planner, which pet-owners use to plan their road trips with their favorite animal(s). The best feature of the Trip Planner, besides allowing you to find pet-friendly hotels along your route, is that you can save it. Overall, the planner is much more than simply getting directions to your destination while you’re in the car, it’s a complete saved itinerary of your trip–including route, driving directions, stopovers and hotels you’ve picked along the way–one that you can refer to before you leave to make any last-minute changes to your itinerary if need be, while also accessing it on the road to get to all your intended stops.

Because of its popularity, we thought we’d write a quick how-to-use piece on it to spread the word so that you can use it for your next trip with no learning curve involved at all. We’re sure you’ll enjoy its ease of use and convenience in organizing your itinerary and allowing you to concentrate on the fun, rather than the hassles, of traveling on the road with a pet (and it is VERY fun….)

The first thing to do is to go to our Trip Planner page and input your departure point, any stop-overs you’re thinking of making, and your destination city. For this example trip, we’re Departing from New York, NY, stopping over in Washington, DC, with a final destination of Savannah, GA. Once you input that information and click on Go!, you get your initial list of hotels along your route, including hotels in your stopover, Washington, DC. If you want to change the route to another road, all you need to do is drag the route on the map and the hotels results will change.

Once you have the desired route, you can focus on the hotels along the way in the left sidebar. You can click on “More Info” for each hotel to get more details about the hotel (which will appear over the map) and/or you can check the “Add to Your Trip” box which will ensure that that hotel will be included in your driving directions.

Add More Hotel Info to Petswelcome Trip planner

If for some reason you decide to change  your destination or stopover,  you can change it in the top bar which shows your previous stopover/destination choices. Once you’ve made your final decisions and have chosen hotels to add to your trip, you can scroll down to the bottom of the hotel results column and you’ll see a button that says, “Get Directions with Selected Hotels.”

Get Directions with Petswelcome Trip Planner

After you click on Get Directions with Selected Hotels, you will then get driving directions with the hotels you have selected included in the directions. At the top of the directions column, you’ll see that you have three choices: Save, Share, or Print. If you save the route, it will be saved in your Petswelcome Passport account. If you don’t have a Passport account, you can choose the option to create one. There is no charge whatsoever and it will give you easy access to your itinerary any time before you leave (in case you want to make changes) and while you’re on the road. You can also share your route by emailing to a friend who or relative who might be going on the same trip but in a separate car, or on a later date. Or you can save it the old-fashioned way by printing.

Save Your Route with Petswelcome Trip Planner

And that, in a nutshell, is how you can use Petswelcome’s Pet-Friendly Trip Planner to give you the ability to plan the perfect road trip with your favorite animals. We say, Yay to that. Please let us know any additional features you would like to see and we’ll get on it asap. In the meantime, Happy Pet Travels!

To read about other considerations when heading out on the road with your pet, see our article Planning a Pet-Friendly Road Trip.

Creating a Pet-Friendly Yard

 

dogs playing in yard

When it comes to taking care of your yard, you can sometimes feel like you’re doing battle with your pet, especially if you have a digger or a particularly heavy-footed pooch. The answer is to put up fencing in those areas where you really don’t want your canine, at least until your plants are full size; it’s when the plants are just emerging from winter’s sleep that they are at their most vulnerable to being stomped down.

But this article is about creating a pet-friendly yard, not a pet-free yard. Once you have your garden plants protected, think about how you can plant the rest of your yard so that it will benefit both you and your pets. Here at petswelcome, both of our guys are shoulder rollers; the stinkier the stuff, they happier they are. But we’ve also noticed them doing the dive on the lawn, and realized that they like the smell of clover. And they’ve done the same in a patch of lavender we have. So consider sowing your lawn with clover seeds, or do yourself a favor and ditch your high-maintenance lawn for a low-maintenance herb lawn. Low-growing herbs like thyme work best, and there are a slew of differently scented thyme varieties you can pick from, like mint, caraway, coconut, lime, and lemon.

pet friendly yard with patch of clover
With your pet-friendly yard, your pooch will be shoulder rolling in clover!

And herbs aren’t just for smell-crazy canines. Why not grow your own catnip (Nepeta cataria; also known as catmint)? It’s a bushy perennial with spring green foliage that grows to about 18 inches high. (Fun fact: Leopards, cougars, and lynxes react to catnip the same way your feline does!) At the end of the season, you can cut the plants and hang them to dry, or dry them on baking sheets in a 180 degree oven (it’ll take about 2 hours). Then you’ll have plenty of dried catnip on hand to make little catnip pillows to send your kitty into euphoria whenever you like. You can get in on it too, by making yourself catnip tea; for each cup of tea, steep about 1 teaspoon of dried leaves.

pet-friendly yard growing catnip in a pot
What better way to make your yard pet friendly than to grow your own catnip!

Lastly, think about planting your yard with one or two big shrubs like forsythia or witch hazel. They’re beautiful in their own right but they provide welcome hideaway spaces for both cats and dogs where they can beat the heat, take a snooze, do their business in private, or gaze longingly at the birdies in the branches above them.

 

Check out our other articles, Create a Pet-Friendly Garden and  Pet-Safe Gardens: Avoid Toxic Gardening Supplies

How to Choose a Pet Friendly Vacation Rental

Dog Friendly Oceanfront Rental
All Inn Dog Friendly Oceanfront Rental, Virginia Beach, VA.

Pet friendly vacation rentals are a great choice for people who are going on trips with their pets. They offer a wide variety of options and amenities that include plenty of space and privacy as well as the ability to cook your own meals and relax with your friends and family. Whether you slow down, speed up, or simply move about at your usual pace, vacations homes are unique in that they allow you to adopt the rhythms of your own life to new and beautiful surroundings.

Here are Petswelcome’s suggestions on how to choose the right vacation rental for you and your pet.

  1. Start Looking Early

When looking for pet friendly vacation rentals, it’s a good idea to start early to make sure you have a chance of securing one for the dates you have planned. It is not uncommon to book a rental a year or more in advance, especially in popular resort areas and shore locations. This is not to say that if you decide on a spur of the moment trip you should rule out rentals. A property manager who controls many rentals might very well have some openings due to cancellations, or other reasons, and therefore could still find you one on short notice.

  1. Do Your Homework

As with pet friendly hotels, not every pet friendly vacation rental is the same, so it’s important to do your homework before committing. We recommend that you start by checking out Petswelcome’s Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental listings. We have done the pet-friendly research for you and guarantee that all our listings allow pets. We also suggest that, in addition to visiting the realtor/owner’s official website, you check their Facebook page to get a gauge of whether they have a lot of favorable—or any negative—posts. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the owner or property manager for references from people who have stayed in the rental you are considering.

petswelcome vacation rental
Johnson Creek Farmhouse, Mountain View, AR.
  1. Pay Attention to the Details

If you do decide on a rental, be prepared to put down a large deposit. Usually it’s a minimum of 50%, but could be the full amount, depending on how far in advance you’ve booked. And always look carefully at the cancellation policy to see whether you will be able to recoup all or any of your money in case you have to opt out of the contract.

With regard to pet policies, be sure to ask specifics. In many cases, there will be a stated pet policy but it might not be as detailed as one you would find at a hotel so it’s important to make sure you know what is or isn’t allowed. For example, a policy might state that dogs are permitted but not say if there is a size limit or a fee, or that the pet is not allowed in specific areas of the rental property. This vagueness with regard to pet policies is usually due to property managers not being able to get every detail from the owners. If it is a privately owned rental, it could just be that the owner is less stringent with regard to the policy details and, after talking with you, will be more open to adjusting it to accommodate your needs.

petswelcome pet friendly rental
Ashling Cottage, Spring Lake, NJ.
  1. Property Manager or Private Owner?

This brings up another aspect of looking for a rental: Whether to rent from a property manager (realtor) or a private owner. While the rental itself (its location, accommodations, and amenities) is going to be the biggest factor in your decision, who you rent from should be another consideration. There are no hard and fast rules. Overall, property managers, since they are businesses and deal with more renters, will probably be more adept with regard to handling details such as dropping off/picking up keys and quickly dealing with any issues you might be having with the rental. They also may be able to provide amenities such as coupons or other discounts for nearby restaurants and services. On the other hand, private owners have their own advantages. If they’re allowing pets into their home, they probably own a pet themselves and therefore might be more flexible with regard to allowing your pet even if it differs from the initial policy requirements. And, if they live in the area, there’s a good chance they’ll have a deeper local knowledge than a realtor. Whichever way you go, though, make sure you will have access to the owner or manager throughout your stay and will be able to contact them at any time. Many rentals now offer a 24/7 texting number, which is a great way to ensure you can get through to them whenever you need to.

  1. Have Fun!

Whether it be a home, cottage, cabin, condo, or duplex, vacation rentals provide the opportunity for a more personal travel experience, one that better allows you the opportunity to march (and explore) to the beat of your own drum. We highly recommend you try the rental option. It’s great way to hang with your pet—and your whole family—in a fun, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere.

If you are considering a pet-friendly vacation rental and would like some advice and/or assistance, please feel free to contact Cindy Dahlen at 320-766-9374 or email her at [email protected].

See our article 7 Reasons to Rent a Vacation Home to read about the many benefits vacation rentals have to offer.

 

10 Perfect Ways to Go Green with Your Pet on Earth Day – 2018 Update

This Earth Day you don’t need a green thumb to help the planet. You can replace all your light bulbs with fluorescent ones, walk or ride a bike when heading out to see friends, and buy recycled products. You can also change a few habits to go green with your pet on Earth Day.

Here are 10 pet-centric tips for being environmentally responsible:

1. Spring cleaning doesn’t mean you have to throw away old towels and blankets. Your local shelter may be able to use them. Call the shelters and rescue groups in your area and see if some of the things you no longer use or need can be reused.

2. When buying items for your pet, be an educated consumer. For instance, purchase natural shampoos in BPA-free bottles, collars made from sustainable materials like hemp, and pet beds or covers made from organic cotton or linen and/or recycled material.

dog wearing a hemp collar
Purchase pet products made from sustainable materials, like this hemp dog collar from Earthdog

3. If you have a lawn, say no to pesticides. Do you really want your dog or cat making regular contact with those sorts of chemicals? You’ll also be helping to lessen the pesticide run-off into our waterways.

4. Also, consider putting in a low-maintenance herb lawn, using a low-growing creeping herb like thyme. Your pup will be in heaven rolling in its aromatic (for once, in a good way!) foliage.

5. If you have a garden, make a little space for the veggies that your reptile buddies eat, and grow them organically. It’ll cut down on the grocery bill, and you’ll know what your pets are eating is pesticide free.

6. Baking treats for your pet is one way to cut down on the number of preservatives and dyes your pet may ingest. Here is one of our favorite recipes.

dog with homemade dog treat in mouth
Making your own doggie treats is easy and guarantees they won’t include unwanted chemical preservatives.

7. When picking up after your pup, be sure to use a biodegradable bag.

8. Use timers on the light bulbs in your aquariums for your fish and reptiles.

9. If there are feral cats in your area, one of the best ways you can help the environment is to have them neutered, if you are able to cajole them into a carrier. It will keep their population in check and lessen the stress on the local wildlife.

10. Finally, the very best kind of recycling there is–adopt a pet. There are so many wonderful cats and dogs at local shelters waiting for and deeply deserving of new homes.

Have a great Earth Day!

Some Crossbreeds We’d Love to See

With the current popularity of crossbred dogs such as Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Puggles, and Schnoodles, to name just a few, some of us at Petswelcome got to thinking about other interesting crossbreeds we’d love to see. What better way to spend an afternoon at the office (and get paid for it!) than concocting new breeds out of existing ones and to speculate on their traits and behavior?

That got me digging into my favorite dog reference book ever, The International Encyclopedia of Dogs, which lists and describes every breed in the world, many I’ve never heard of because they can only be found in their country of origin. I’ve spent many wonderful hours feeding my canine cravings by pawing through my copy, fantasizing about different kinds of dogs I’d love to own or just hang out with. I even discovered my Bracco Italiano in this book.

Since the Encyclopedia of Dogs list so many breeds, we knew it would greatly enhance our palette when trying to mix them up and come up with new ones, some that might take generations to conjure due their complex lineage. We’re not positive that any of these crossbreeds never existed. But we’re pretty positive.

MoLaryeCurly: This is a mix of a Molosser, a Larye, and a Curly Coated Retriever. Technically this crossbreed would be impossible to create today because the Larye (pronounced, we hope, Larry) is an old French hound breed that is now extinct. However, because we are huge Three Stooges fans, we thought it would be fun to imagine what this dog might be like. One of its obvious traits would be, if you tapped on its head it would sound like an anvil. Also, gather a few in one room and they probably would get into a pie fight.

Russian OsterDox
Russian OsterDox?

Russian OsterDox: A mix between a Russian Wolfhound, an Österreichische (Austrian) Pinscher and a Dachshund. This noble breed tends towards fanciful garb, large cathedrals, Byzantine crosses and incense. Though they are prone to large schisms with the Catholic church (their most recent one has been going on since 1054), we hope they’ll both make up and become best buddies again soon.

PekingDuck: This crossbreed is made up from a Pekingese and a Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever. It is characterized by thin, crispy skin and a tendency to get ladled in homemade plum sauce and green onions. We’re not sure if these dogs ever existed or simply had short lifespans because they were impulsively eaten by their horrified, yet pleasantly sated, owners.

ChiHoo-ah: A cross between a Chihuahua and Al Pacino. This crossbreed originated in 1992 when the movie Scent of a Woman was released. Though Pacino won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, most people (and dogs) we know could not sit through the whole film. This breed is noted for its tendency toward criminal overacting and a reliance on annoying character traits.

A noxious combination?

GasBerner: A potent mix of a Gascon Saintongeois, a French scenthound, and a Berner Swiss Hound, known in the U.S. as a Bernese Swiss Hound. The GasBerner probably would have a trait similar to an old flatulent St. Bernard I used to own. And I don’t mean it would sleep a lot. If you opt for this crossbreed, keep the windows open.

Mini Drever: This is a cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and a Drever, which is a Swedish scenthound. This would be a great crossbreed for anyone who is a fan of Good Will Hunting and Gross Pointe Blank. One of its recessive traits is that it has a pretty good singing voice, too.

LappRot: A mix between a Lapphund, which is a Scandanavian herding Spitz, and a Rottweiler. Characterized by severe itching and discoloration, usually due to time spent in wet climes, the LappRot is something you probably want to avoid at all costs. Though we have heard there are some ointments for it, we suggest just settling for a pure Lapphund or a pure Rottweiler. In this case, Don’t go messin’ with the genetics yo should be your guiding principle.

Yellow Euran Pudle: OK. We had to work hard for this one. It’s a crossing of a Yellow Lab, a Eurasier, an Andalusian Hound and a Pudelpointer. This multiple crossbreed is distinguished by stained rugs and letting you know if your kitchen floor is plumb, depending on whether the “Pudle” remains intact or becomes a moving body of liquid.

IncaDunkerDogoDingoDo: This is a mix between an Inca Orchid Dog, a Dunker, a Dogo Argentino, a Dingo, and a Doberman. We have no idea how this dog would turn out. It’s way too complicated. But who cares? Really. Who cares? What’s important is the joy you’ll get every time someone asks you, What kind of dog is that?