Painting My Dog at Saratoga Paint and Sip

This was so much fun! My friends and I painted images of our dogs last night at a local paint and sip studio. 

It was such a blast. You send them a photo of your pet, they sketch it out for you on a canvas and then you paint it. 

I always knew Toby has unique tones of brown, but until last night when I was trying to replicate them, I didn’t realize how truely unique it was. 

Clearly, it’s not perfect, but they did some adorable. 

Here are some photos of the process. 






It was my second time painting at this type of studio. It’s so relaxing and calming, and fun! 

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Stop Shaming My Small Dog

Last time I checked my dogs still had four legs, four paws, two ears, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, fur and a tail. 

Their internal temperature is between 99 °F and 102.5 °F, and their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times as sensitive as mine – all scientific characterization that do indeed make them, a dog. 

Yet, society says other wise, because at 12 and 13 pounds, respectfully, they, are not a dog. 

After 7 years of living with Toby, I’ve heard it all. Friends have called him “a little shit,” he’s been called, “not a real dog,” and of course anything under 25 pounds is just not “respectable.”  

Stop. Just stop. 

It’s rude, annoying and hurtful, not just to the dog but to me. You’re not insulting the dog, you’re insulting me, and my choices. 

They will still bring you the ball to play with, lick your face and wag their tail when they see you. I, on the other hand, will not be as forgiving. 

I will fully admit that I didn’t want a little dog. But not because it was a “little shit,” but because I wanted a dog for protection, to do a lot of out door activities with and very honestly, because my parents wouldn’t let me have a golden retriever growing up. Instead we had a Lhasa Apso, and I had to get my golden “fix” when I was at my aunt’s farm. 

Call it rebellion. 

Well, I fell in love with Toby and that all changed. And, then Maddux. 

Both of these dogs have their issues, but they are still dogs. They have exposed me to so many experiences, people and places. And, because of their size, they have been able to come with me a bunch of places. From a boat ride in Maine to a first class seat on a flight to Florida. 

And, Toby, he is a little protector. Sometimes to a fault, but if I were ever in danger, I would want Toby on my side. 

Are there specific dog breeds that I am not a fan of? Absolutely. But, I don’t go around calling those dogs names or insulting their owners. They are still dogs. 

Just like everything else, you don’t know what a person is going through or their circumstances. I love Bernese Mountain dogs, would I own one? Likely not right now. Their size doesn’t fit my space and their food bills are a little out of my budget. 

When I got Toby, I was told I was allergic to dogs, plus I was living at my dad’s house – a place that is definitely not set up for a large dog and has my dad in it — someone who is also very allergic to dogs. That narrows down your choices. 

Just because they are not 50-pound mutts, doesn’t mean they can’t do things. My dogs go kayaking with me, Toby has hiked a mountain in Maine with me, Maddux walks several miles with me the mornings and will eventually be an agility dog who is likely faster than you at running a mile. 


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Peeing With Your Dog 

When I write peeing with your dog, I don’t mean out in the yard with them, or when they like to come into the bathroom with you, what I am talking about is when you’re out someplace, just you and them, and you need to use a restroom. 

What do you do? 

Most times I can find a rest area or will stop at a store and run in, while they wait in the car, but twice in the past week, I have been in situations where neither of those things were possible. 

I had taken Toby into a restroom at the beach with me once and it was interesting, but it worked. Two dogs, however, I wasn’t so sure about that.

First the looks we got were, well, very interesting. You could see the disapproval on my many people’s face, except for the mom who was juggling three kids, including a baby in a stroller, alone. I think she had some sympathy.

The single stall was a bit hard because trying to keep them in that little space was not going well. 

The second time I did it I went into a larger one and made them both “sit and stay.” Maddux listened well, but Toby wanted out ASAP. 

Putting their leash on the hanger where you would put your purse was actually a big help. 

Have you ever peed with your dog? Any tips? 

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What Do I Need for My New Tortoise? #ReptileCare

This post is a sponsoredpost. I am being compensated to help spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Tail Hurts From Wagging So Much only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.


So you’ve visited petMD®’s new Reptile Center to researched what type of reptile fits your lifestyle, and you have decided that a tortoise is your reptile of choice. Welcome to reptile ownership! Now, it’s time for the next step — what do you need to make sure your new pal has a happy and healthy life as you embark on your reptile care journey. petsmart_reptile_care

Tortoises are not a cheap pet. You must invest in their care, which includes: a properly sized tank, a heat source, correct light source, appropriate bedding, as well as food and water dishes, and of course food.

Light and heat sources are so important. If they do not have the proper light and heat, it will cause a host of problems. There are a number of heating and lighting fixtures to choose from at PetSmart®’s Reptile Purchase Center.

As you can see, I have multiple devices to do this including a heating pad that attaches on the side of the tank in addition to a ceramic fixture dome that holds my heat lamp as well as the proper light for my particular tortoises.

Deciding what type of heat source you need can also depend on the type of cage you are using. I am really enjoying the ExoTerra line of cages. They are stylish, easy to clean and fit my tortoises perfectly. I bought the one below for Daytona, and am still in the process of decorating it. My other tortoise babies are in a large ZooMed habitat.

Speaking of decorating your new friend’s home, make sure to choose an appropriate substrate. You can also use live plants and stylish water dishes like the one below to make the cage visually appealing for you and healthy for your tortoise.

Now that you have their cage set it’s time to eat! Just like each species of tortoises have their own heating, humidity and lighting requirements, they also have different food requirements. That said overall, most tortoises diets are plant-based, but of course, just like dogs, not every fruit and vegetable is good for your tortoise, so make sure you check out the Reptile Care Center for more advice.

For my guys, I usually serve a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including a variety of organic lettuces, cactus pads and common household and outdoor plants. In fact, I have a ton of plants growing both inside and outside of my house for the tortoises. I may go a little overboard with it, but variety helps make sure my tortoises are getting all the appropriate vitamins and minerals they need. I also use a sprinkle-on supplement.

If you do decide to be crazy like me and plant your own vegetables for your tortoise to eat, make sure they are free of pesticides, or if you do use them, follow the harvesting directions closely.



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Bark in the Park at the Valley Cats Game

A baseball game I can bring my dog to? Yes, please! That was the case Monday night when the Tri City Valley Cats, a triple A affiliate of the Texas Rangers hosted their Bark in the Park night. 

It was so much fun. I took Maddux and we went with my friend Jen and her dog, Jenks, who by the way, caught a ball! (More on that later) 

The best part, which I didn’t know was part of the night, was our dogs being able to run the bases after the game was over. So cool! 

Maddux is so good at events like this. He just sits in my lap and chills out. At one point he almost fell asleep! 

Now, back to our buddy Jenks catching a ball. One of the players threw it into the stands and while all the people went diving for it, it literally went right under him! 

However that wasn’t the cutest part of the night. The photo below was. Happy puppy, happy baby. 


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Fourth of July Dogs: Fireworks and Beer

I would not suggest this, but I bribed Toby yesterday. I also don’t recommend using what I bribed him with — a trip to the brewery.

Not usually bothered by fireworks, Toby is bothered by tourists. Well, more like mobs of people who are standing four or five deep on the shore of the lake. He was not a happy camper walking down to the lake — something we do almost everyday and something he loves.

It must have sounded ridiculous, but when I couldn’t get him to continue walking, I finally told him, “look, if you are good and walk with us to the lake, we will stop at the brewery on the way home if they are open.”

He was a perfect gentleman after that.

A pro at lake-side fireworks, Toby sat in my lap and Maddux sat in front of me while we watched the show. Well, most of the show. It was so crowded that I was getting annoyed more than Toby so we got up and watched from much further away.



Since he was good, I kept my promise and took him to the brewery. Not to drink beer, but to socialize. He has been going there since he was a puppy and loves the place, because he usually gets tons of attention.

Last night was no different. It took me over an hour to drink my one pint of beer, because everyone from little kids to the waitress wanted to talk about and with Toby and Maddux. In fact, two very nice women were sitting next to us and even sat at our table for a bit so the could give some love to Maddux and Toby.

How was your Fourth of July?

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Lake George Dog Beach Dogs 

The dogs and I spent this absolutely beautiful afternoon at the Lake George dog beach. 

There is a push to possibly close it, which I am clearly 100 percent against. Before the state makes any decision, they should spend a Saturday or holiday there. 

Dogs of all sizes running, jumping and swimming in the lake. Happy dogs. Really happy dogs. 

Some were sprawled out on the beach by their owners, while other played ball. It made me happy to see them. Why would you take that away from them? 

And don’t even get me started on the tourism impact a pet-friendly beach brings in a $60 billion pet industry. 

As for Toby and Maddux, they could not have had a better afternoon. Toby has been to that beach with me numerous times, but it was only Maddux’s second time and his first during the summer.


I mean, seriously, would you want to tell those dogs they couldn’t come to the beach anymore? 

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A Letter to My Rescue Puppy on His First Birthday

Maddux, my little Florida dog, where do I begin? Let’s start with Happy Birthday. You turned one on Saturday and since I always write a letter to Toby on his birthday, I will do the same for you.

Thank you for coming into my life. You are exactly what I needed, although maybe I didn’t know it at the time. I realize it now.

Ever since I saw you in that blue carrier at the filming for Puppy Bowl XI, I knew you were special. Taking you out of that carrier, and spending the whole day with you and watching you play on the field and with the other dogs, I just fell in love. I was forming an instant bond with you.

I held you lots, was on the phone with my dad and aunt freaking out, because the timing wasn’t right, and I didn’t know what to do. And, lets not even start with how much of a headache I must have given Laurie and Brianne.

“Should I take him? … He doesn’t like me. … What if Toby doesn’t like him? … I just started a new job. … This is the worst possible timing. … My Dad is going to kill me.”

I knew I wanted a second dog, especially since I was going to be finally living in my house and working remotely, and because Toby was getting older and I thought it would be good for him.

Boy have you been good for him. Bringing you home that day, while the adjustment did have a few bumps, was likely the best thing I have ever done for Toby. You took to him immediately. He, however, did take some time to get used to no longer being the only fur in town, but it took him a little over a month to finally let you cuddle next to him in bed. And now, you two are awesome buddies.

We have done a lot in the 8 months you have been living with us. You and I flew to Florida for the Puppy Bowl, I finally switched veterinarians, we are going to several dog training classes — something I have always had an interest in, but never could find a place I felt comfortable.

You have spent a night being passed around the curling club and impressing everyone you met because of your calm spirit. Yes, your calm spirit. You have not only helped Toby, but you have helped me. You are a very chill dog. Not needy, not clingy — well a little — but overall you are perfectly fine whether you are snuggled in my arms or someone else’s.

As a result, you have helped my anxiety, too.

When you first came to live with us, you weren’t a snuggle bug, but as you’re growing up, and maybe realizing, “yup, this is my forever home,” you have come much more snuggly. You have also gotten a little more confident. I mean, you are a confident dog to begin with, but you are still a little shy, which is ok in my book.

After a day filled with fun on your birthday, you did something you never do — cuddled up on my pillow and refused to move.

Since the moment I let you sleep in bed with me and Toby, you have always went straight under the covers and snuggled at my feet. Not that night. You put yourself on the corner my pillow and stayed there. I finally gave in, shut the lights out and put my head on the pillow, too. I gave you kiss on your head, wished you a happy birthday and said, “I hope you had a good birthday. Love you.”

You, took both your paws and put them on my left shoulder, and shut your eyes.

I love you little Maddux.

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Puppy’s First Birthday Party

Maddux turned one on Saturday, and boy did we have some fun.

Sleepovers, charity walks, dog parks, balloons, homemade pupcakes and more!

The weekend started out with a Friday night sleepover at my friend’s house.

Maddux loves her dog, Jenks, so it was perfect that he got to wake up at his friend’s house on his first birthday under a pile of blankets.

And then we went to a nearby college where the Paws in the Park walk was being held to support a local animal rescue.

Maddux and Toby had a blast walking with Jenks and meeting all the vendors and others dogs. It was so much fun!

We left there and headed back to our house where Jenks and his mom would be meeting is later.

On our way back we stopped at our local pet store and dog park where Maddux got to pick out a toy and play a little.

They were pooped, but the fun was just starting. I made homemade pupcakes for the dogs and let them do a “cake smash” just like kids do on their first birthday.

Are they not the cutest?

I’m so happy with how everything turned out. I think Maddux had a really wonderful birthday!

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Being a Successful Reptile Owner #ReptileCare

This post is a sponsored post. I am being compensated to help spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Tail Hurts From Wagging So Much only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

Whether you own a pet tortoise, snake, lizard or bearded dragon, understanding proper reptile care is important.

When I had my first pet reptile — a painted turtle when I was about 8 years old — there was no internet to look up information. In fact, I don’t remember there being that much information about their health available overall.

Fast forward about 15 years to when I graduated college and got back into the reptile hobby, and the internet made a world of difference when I started caring for tortoises. I started with two Russian tortoises and quickly added another two – Bert and Ernie – who  I adopted from an animal shelter after parents complained about them being used as classroom pets.

Now, I have four adorable baby tortoises. Two cherry head red foot tortoises and two red foot tortoises. What feels like every day, I am reading something new about them or have another question about their care that I Google.



So, when I heard about petMD®’s new Reptile Center brought to you by PetSmart, I was excited there was going to be another resource for current reptile owners to learn more, and for new owners to learn what they are getting themselves into. petsmart_reptile_care

Caring for a reptile is not difficult, but it does take some planning, understanding and flexibility. For example, I have special heat lights and bedding that mine need to be happy and healthy. They also need special lights that have to be on between 8 and 10 hours a day to help them get the needed light spectrum for proper care of their shells.

The good thing is that many of these are available at PetSmart’s Reptile Purchase Center.

There are also things some people might not think about when it comes to reptiles, like respiratory issues. Did you know that in turtles, a lack of vitamin A in the diet, can also play a role in causing respiratory issues? I didn’t, until I read an article in the Reptile Center.

If you’re thinking of getting a reptile, browse the Reptile Center to learn what type of reptile best fits your lifestyle. My tortoises are a perfect match for me, and once you decide what kind of reptile you want, picking one will be easy. You will “just know” when you see them.

That’s how I felt about Daytona, who I got while covering a reptile breeders conference in Daytona Beach. There were only several left and as soon as I saw him, I knew I wanted to take him home. They have such individual personalities and tastes! Yes, tastes! There are some types of lettuces that one of my tortoises, likes but the others doesn’t. So crazy. 


And, you’ll be in good company if you decide to get a turtle or tortoise. According to the American Pet Products Association, turtles are the number one reptile pet.

Whatever type of reptile you decide on, make sure you read, read, read! The more information you have, the more successful of a reptile owner you will be.


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