Friday, February 23, 2018

A Tale Of Two Dog Friendly Hotels

My husband and I were so excited to visit my sisters in their new home in Florida.  We packed the car with 2 weeks worth of provisions and our two dogs, Icy and Phoebe, and off we went!   It had been years since I'd been to Florida, I was so excited to go, especially with my dogs!  It would be Icy's first time in Florida, and although we don't know my rescue dog Phoebe's history, she probably hadn't been there either.

There were so many things I wanted to see and do when we got to Florida.  I really couldn't wait to see how the dogs would enjoy playing on a dog friendly Florida beach.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was staying at a particular pet friendly hotel.  I had been dreaming about visiting the dog friendly Kimpton Hotel in Vero Beach, Florida since I discovered it 4 years ago!  This boutique hotel chain is a big step above the norm for dog friendly hotels.  For one thing, they don't specify "small dogs only" like most of the higher end dog friendly hotels do.  It's located right on the beach and is quite luxurious.  It was gonna be Perfect!!  Or so I thought.

Dog Friendly Hotels.  Dogs. Dog Blogs, Pet Travel Tips
Stunning view of the pool area, and the ocean to the left, from our hotel room balcony.

Sure, the room and the view from our balcony were spectacular....

Pet Friendly Hotels in Florida.  Dog Travel Tips. Dog Friendly
Our room was terrific, I loved the layout and how spacious it was

Sure, the spacious room and bathroom were pretty much to die for, especially for a hotel that allows dogs!

Pet Friendly Hotel in Vero Beach, Florida.  Pet Travel. Dog Friendly
You could open a panel from the bathtub and see straight out to the balcony! 

Dog Friendly Hotel.  Pet Friendly Hotel
The frameless glass shower was wonderful, our bathroom felt like a spa
Sure we all loved our balcony.  We spent lots of time on the balcony with the dogs when it wasn't too sunny out there...

Pet Travel Tips.  Pets. Dogs. Pet Travel, Dog Travel,
Icy and Phoebe relaxing on the balcony of our hotel room
So... what's the problem, you ask?  In my mind, there are two kinds of dog friendly hotels.  Those that are truly dog welcoming hotels and those that are mostly dog tolerant hotels.  The former are those pet friendly hotels that truly GET IT. They understand that my pets are family and part of my vacation fun.  The latter are hotels that allow dogs and other pets but they don't really do much to make pets feel welcome.  Instead, they impose lots of high pet fees, restrictions, and rules.

For me, a truly dog welcoming hotel is a necessity.  If a hotel doesn't welcome my dogs, I might as well leave them home!  They are my furry family members and I love to vacation with them.  My ideal vacation with my dogs includes pet welcoming hotels and dog friendly activities.  If there's nothing for them to do or be included in, I might as well leave them at the PetSmart Hotel, where they can play in doggie day camp and have fun with other dogs. 

My dogs don't want to be left alone in a hotel room with nothing to do but stare out the bars of their crate - who would want that for their pets?!  Although this Kimpton Hotel was gorgeous and great for us, it wasn't much of a treat for Icy and Phoebe.  Here's why:

Immediately upon checking in I was handed a Pet Policy to sign stating that my dogs were basically Not Allowed anywhere in the hotel except in our room.  It stated that if we left the room, our dogs had to be crated .  I do not crate my dogs at home and leave the house so I'm not going to do it in a hotel.  They are super well behaved.  If they weren't I wouldn't bring them to a seaside hotel.

My dogs were not welcome on either of their restaurant's outdoor patios.  The patios were quite spacious, so Why Not?!  I was very disappointed, that is not very dog welcoming.

The only flooring throughout our room was tile, which is cold. Being a Siberian Husky, that's great for Icy, but not for my little warmth-sucker, Phoebe.  They didn't provide a pet bed in the room and one wasn't offered.  After we got to our room I saw how cold it was and that Phoebe was uncomfortable.  I called the front desk to ask for a pet bed.  They brought us a pet bed that clearly hadn't been cleaned.  There was hair all over it and dirt was lodged in the edges of the bed.  I had to shake it out and use a lint brush on it myself.  However, Phoebe loved that bed and spent most of her time snuggled up in it so I can't complain TOO much!  Many upscale pet friendly hotels provide a pet bed in the room or offer one upon checkin, which is very welcoming.

Throughout our stay, no one even offered me a biscuit for my two dogs!  Most dog friendly hotels have a little something to welcome their furry guests upon arrival; a biscuit or dog treat, a bed, poop bags, something!

I knew in advance that although the hotel is right on the beach, no pets were allowed on the beach.  That is a Vero Beach town rule, so it's not their fault. It was a shame though.

The hotel has no self parking, only valet (daily fee) which makes it difficult when traveling with pets.  I don't know about you, but we often need to get into the car to grab some pet related item or other.  Their parking garage was large so I wish they offered self parking as well, but that's not really a pet friendly point so scratch that complaint.

Think I'm being too picky? Think I should be grateful that any hotel allows our dogs?  Let me tell you, for the prices they charge at this place I think they should include a full on Spa Day for my dogs!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad place to stay with dogs.  I'm just saying there are hotels that are far more welcoming to pets.  Which brings me to the second half of my Tale of Two Dog Friendly Hotels.

I found dog friendly Hyatt Place Hotels quite by accident when we drove down to Myrtle Beach for a BlogPaws conference.  We needed a pit stop along the way so I settled on Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

When searching for pet friendly hotels in the area I happened upon a Hyatt Place Hotel.  I've heard of Hyatt Hotels of course, but wasn't familiar with their Hyatt Place Hotels.

Pet friendly Hyatt Place Hotels.  Fredericksburg Virginia. Dog Friendly Travel
Icy and Phoebe relaxing in the beautiful Hyatt Place Hotel in Fredericksburg, VA.  They LOVE the Hyatt Place hotel!  
Imagine our delight when we found this lovely Hyatt Place Hotel that welcomes pets!  Actually, by dog friendly hotel standards, it's gorgeous and beautifully updated! Their fee was reasonable and they welcome up to two dogs 50lbs and under.  I've been told however, that larger size dogs can be accepted at Hyatt Place Hotels, at Management discretion. Call in advance, of course.

Check out this beautifully updated, spacious room!  We are so comfortable in this hotel.  We've stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Fredericksburg 4 times, we just love it!

Dog friendly Hyatt Place Hotels.  Pet friendly. Dog friendly. Pet travel tips.
My exhausted dogs and husband relax upon arrival at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Fredersburg, Virginia.
The Management and Staff at this particular hotel are fabulous.  It's such a pleasure going there.  They are so welcoming to us and to our dogs.  They always want to pet and love on Icy and Phoebe, and they always offer them biscuits!

Just outside the hotel is a really pretty walking path with wide sidewalks and a convenient poop station. We really look forward to our morning walks with the dogs at this hotel.

They don't pummel us with rules of what we can't do with our dogs, they welcome them!  The vibe is just great here.

Because we've had such great experiences at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Fredericksburg, we looked for a Hyatt Place Hotel in West Palm Beach Florida where my sisters live.  We found a great one, right in downtown West Palm Beach.  Not only is the location perfect, but the staff are so sweet.  They really liked our dogs and treated us so well.  Again, they didn't pummel us with rules about where they can't go, they welcomed Icy and Phoebe.  We even saw dogs hanging out at the bar with their owners!  I'm not sure that's really allowed because they do serve some food in that area, but no one complained.  I didn't dare bring our dogs into the bar though, I was too timid LOL!   

We hung out with them in a corner of the lobby one afternoon and no one had any issue with it.

Dog friendly Hyatt Place Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida. Pet travel tips. Dogs. Pets. Dog welcoming hotel in West Palm Beach, FL
Cooling off with Icy and Phoebe in the Hyatt Place Hotel lobby after a long walk around West Palm Beach, FL.
During our stay in West Palm Beach, Icy and Phoebe were so comfortable and happy at this hotel.  We had no issue leaving them in the room for short periods of time while we went out for a few meals.  Honestly though, there were so many things to do with the dogs in the area they didn't need to stay in the room alone much at all. 

Dog friendly West Palm Beach, Florida.  Pet friendly hotels in West Palm Beach, FL
Phoebe checks out the skyline of West Palm Beach, from across the Intercoastal in Palm Beach
The staff was great about actually calling to say they noticed we had our Do Not disturb sign on the first 2 days, and asked if we needed any towels or cleaning.  If so, they wanted to know when it was convenient for us to have them come into the room.  How nice is that!?

Our stay at the Hyatt Place Hotels was so pleasant and comfortable, we loved every day we were there.  I can't wait to stay there again!  

I'd still recommend the Kimpton Hotel in Vero Beach, I just wouldn't recommend bringing pets along if you don't want them confined to the room all day or if you don't plan to take them on outings away from the hotel.

Psst!! In my next blog post, I'm going to let you in on a little secret - what the Best dog friendly beach on Florida's East Coast is!  Stay Tuned!

I'm definitely adding Florida to my list of great dog friendly vacation spots!  Want to see more great places to take your pets on vacation? Check out my post on Great Dog Friendly Vacation Spots!


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Snow Dogs or Beach Dogs?

They say no two dogs are exactly alike, and that's certainly the case with my dogs, Icy and Phoebe!

My Siberian Husky, Icy, is a Snow Dog for sure!

Siberian Husky in the snow.  BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, Bloggers, Blog hops
I've got my tush high in the air for a reason, Come Play  in the Snow With Me!!

Dogs playing in the snow.  Pet bloggers, Dog bloggers, blog hops
How dare you ask me a question, can't you see I've got a ball stuffed in my mouth?!?

But my dog Phoebe, a Havanese/Maltese/Bichon kind of mix is definitely a Beach Bunny!

My dog at Juno Beach, Florida.  Dogs love the beach, Juno Beach is mostly a dog friendly beach in Florida
My dog Phoebe at Juno Beach, Florida

My dog relaxing on Juno Beach, Florida, a dog friendly beach.  Dog friendly beaches in Florida. Dogs on the beach.  Blog hops.
Mmmm, this sand tastes pretty good!

What about your pets, are they snow bunnies or beach bunnies?  Tell us in the comments!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

5 Ways To Celebrate Valentines Day With Your Dog

February 14th is Saint Valentine's Day.  Americans celebrate the entire month of February as the month of romance.  Valentine's Day is celebrated in the U.S. and many other countries as well.  It is an ancient celebration, thought to have originated as part of a pagan fertility ritual in ancient Roman times.

The origins of Valentine's Day weren't exactly hearts, flowers, and kisses, but that's what it symbolizes in modern times!  Valentine's Day is synonymous with cards, candy, gifts, and flowers.  And for pet parents, it's also synonymous with special treats, toys, and dates with their best furry friend.

My Furry Valentines, Phoebe and Icy!

Making your dog your Valentine?  Great! 'Cause Dogs Make The Best Valentines Day Dates!!

Here are 5 Extra Special things to do with your dog this Valentine's Day. 💕


Several grooming salons and hotels are offering spa treatments for dogs.  They know many pet parents want to thoroughly spoil and pamper their pets.

The Pooch Hotel, with a number of locations in California and a few on the East coast, will pamper your pet with style.  In addition to more traditional dog grooming you can add spa treatments to thoroughly indulge your dog.  I read about one place that even offers a warm Hydro Surge massage bath hydrotherapy for dogs with arthritis and other muscle problems.

If a doggy day spa isn't in the budget, create an at-home spa treatment.  Give your dog a facial and a pawdicure, dog friendly nail polish and all!   I found a fun recipe for a homemade Blueberry Facial for your Dog on Wag's web site

In a mixing bowl, grind up a half cup of oats to a powder.  Add crushed fresh blueberries and combine.  Wag says that this will create a facial mix that is high in antioxidants and good for the dog's skin and fur.  Check out their web site for full instructions and the proper method to give your dog a facial.  blueberries tend to stand so make sure you don't use your good white towels!


Get some Valentines Day relaxation for you and your pup!  Try taking a DOGA (Dog Yoga) Class.   In New York City, you can book a private DOGA session with your dog, or find a group DOGA session to attend. Search for a DOGA class in your city. If you can't find one in local search, check out the site Trips With Pets.   They list some DOGA classes being given in various parts of the country.  You can also Call a local yoga studio and ask if they know of any instructors that have led DOGA classes.  A local animal shelter in my area actually hosted a few DOGA classes last Summer!  How cool is that?  There's a yoga studio in The Hamptons, NY that gives DOGA sessions in Summer as well.    According to DOGA in NYC,    "Doga is simply creating a space of presence where you and your dog can share a state of peace"  That sounds good to me!


Host a Valentines Day Yappy Hour party for your dog's best furriends at your house, or search for one in your neighborhood. 

A local brewery here in New York is hosting a Valentine's Day Yappy Hour.  In Phoenix, Arizona there was a local bar that regularly hosted Yappy Hours.  If you live in a warm weather state and are near water, you may be lucky enough to find a Valentine's Day Yappy Hour Cruise!

A few years back I read about a singles group that hosted a mixer for singles looking for love... and their dogs!  Attendees brought their dogs along to the event in the hopes of  finding love.  Talk about a great ice breaker having dogs at the event!  The event doubled as an animal welfare fundraiser.

Search on Valentine's Day Yappy Hours in your city. lists Worldwide Dog Events, so it might be worth checking out their event page as well.

If you host a Valentine's Day Yappy Hour yourself, invite your dog's best furriends and have fun with a Valentine's Day theme!

💗 You can find inexpensive party themed items at the dollar store or craft store.

💗 Get some Valentine's Day themed dog treats to serve your furry guests.   Petco and PetSmart always have some fun holiday themed dog treats.

💗 Set up some fun games for the dogs to play.  I like the tennis ball muffin tin game.  You place treats in a muffin tin and cover each of the muffin holes with a tennis ball.  The dogs have to knock the balls out of the way to get to the treat!  If you have a lot of interactive toys you can bring them all out and have the dogs circle around to each one.

Interactive games can be fun for multiple dogs to play with together


Serve your dog a special home cooked Valentine's Day dinner.  Boil up some Chicken, beef, or liver in a pot with healthy dog friendly vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, broccoli or other pet friendly veggies.  Leave out the onion & garlic, as those can be toxic to pets!

If you don't have the time or desire to cook, look for such as Merrick Pet Food's PUGS N' KISSES Grain Free canned dog food.  It's one of their many special Limited Edition, Seasonal Recipes.  Available through and other pet retailers.


Bake some special Valentine's Day dog treats, or Find a doggie bakery that makes something special for Valentines Day.  Many dog bakeries (or BARKeries, as they're often called) will ship goodies right to your home.

Our friend Emma at My GBGV Life has a great recipe for Strawberry Banana LuvCakes !  These are really special.


Now that you've planned something extra special for your dog this Valentines Day, why not treat yourself to something special?  

Our UNCONDITIONAL LOVE design was created exclusively for Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them by Brooklyn artist  It's our own unique design, inspired by the Unconditional Love our pets give us every day.  You won't find this exclusive design anywhere else!


Lightweight Sweatshirts

T shirts in several styles & colors
 iPhone and Galaxy cases, Laptop Cases & Skins, Mugs, Bags and more!

Are you doing anything special with your pet on Valentine's Day?  Tell us about it in the Comments!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

How Pet's Dental Health Effects Overall Health, & A GIVEAWAY!

February is Pet Dental Health Month, but we should be conscious of our dog's oral health all year long.  Poor dental health in pets can lead to more serious health issues.  Whiter teeth and the absence of bad breath in my dog are great, but good oral health for dogs goes deeper than that.

If a dog has poor oral health it can lead to dental disease, especially periodontal disease which can lead to more serious health problems.  Toxins from periodontal disease get absorbed into the dog's blood stream and can cause infections in the body.  This can potentially damage kidney, heart, and brain tissue.  

Good Pet Oral Health isn't just about fresh breath and whiter teeth, it's an important part of your dog's overall health!  

Oratene Brushless Oral Care for Pets.  Line of brushless products for pet dental health care. Safe to use on Dogs and Cats.
Oratene Brushless Oral Care for Pets, from Zymox
This post is sponsored by Oratene® . I am being compensated to help share information about Oratene Brushless Pet Oral Care products for Pet Dental Health Month, but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers.

Many kinds of bacteria can grow in your pet's mouth.  The mouth is moist and dark, a perfect place for bacteria to flourish.  Bacteria such as plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which can throw off the balance of normal, healthy microbial flora in your dog's mouth.  This can ultimately lead to dental disease.

Nearly 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have dental disease, the most common health problem effecting dogs.  Pet health. Dental disease in dogs and cats. Pet Dental Health.  Zymox Oratene Brushless Oral Care for pets
When we adopted Phoebe at age 5 her teeth were already in poor shape. 

Pets taking medications are especially prone to dental health issues. Some medications can cause a condition known as "Dry Mouth".  Although pets may still have saliva and drool, the quality of the saliva is poor.  Pets with chronic Dry Mouth can develop severe halitosis (very bad breath), and tooth decay.  


According to both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and PetMD, nearly 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have dental disease.  It's the most common health problem effecting dogs.  

Pet Dental disease includes:  

🐶 Periodontal Disease; one of the most common diseases in dogs, it causes damage to the gum, bone, and tissue around the teeth.

🙀 Gingivitis; an inflammation and infection of the gums.

🐶 Tooth root abscesses

🙀 Broken or lost teeth

When I adopted Phoebe she was about 5 years old.  From the start her teeth weren't good.  I was nervous about getting her a dental cleaning because in order for pets to have a Veterinary dental cleaning they need to be put under anesthesia. That scared me and I didn't want to take the chance.

I tried to brush her teeth but it didn't work well, she hated it.  I was really happy when I found Oratene water additive, which helps prevent plaque and remove biofilm.  I hoped the water additive, along with dental chews would help me avoid a dental cleaning for her altogether, but it was too late, her teeth were too far gone.  Although it helped both my dogs bad breath a lot, the damage to Phoebe's teeth could not be undone.   

Nearly 80% of dogs over age 3 have dental disease, it's the most common health problem in dogs.  Oratene brushless oral care for dogs and cats helps prevent plaque & biofilm in pets.  February is Pet Dental Health Month
Phoebe's beautiful pearly whites after her cleaning at the Vet.  
At 8 years old one of Phoebe's teeth fell out for no apparent reason.  After that I bit the bullet and took her to the Vet for a dental cleaning.  I'm so glad I did because she ended up needing to have 6 teeth pulled!

I felt so bad that she had to go through the stress of a Veterinary dental cleaning, anesthesia, and having to stay at the Vet all day and into the evening.  I vowed to make her first Veterinary dental cleaning her last by using Oratene's Brushless Oral Care Toothpaste Gel and water additive!


After her dental cleaning, I made a more serious effort to use both the Oratene Brushless Toothpaste Gel and Water Additive daily.  

Phoebe never accepted me brushing her teeth, she just hated it too much.  Rather than continuing to struggle getting her to accept a toothbrush or finger brush, I tried Oratene's Brushless Toothpaste Gel.  Yes, that's right, I said Brushless toothpaste!  You just apply the gel to your dog's gums once or twice a day. The pet's saliva works to get the toothpaste to all parts of the mouth without brushing.  No more struggling with an uncomfortable brush in Phoebe's mouth.  

The toothpaste gel and water additive are safe for use on both dogs and cats.  That's such a convenience, you don't have to keep two sets of pet dental care products for your dog and cat, they can share!

***** IMPORTANT! Never use human toothpaste on your pet, it contains ingredients, such as fluoride, that are toxic to pets *****

Fortunately, Phoebe didn't have much of an issue with me sticking my finger in her mouth, it was the brushing she hated.  I took the time needed to have her get used to me applying the gel to her gums.  It was a much easier process than I feared!  I make sure to give her a small treat afterwards so she knows that the toothpaste gel leads to a TREAT! I think she almost looks forward to it!

I'll continue using Oratene's Brushless Toothpaste Gel along with the Oratene Water Additive, and hopefully Phoebe won't have to get another dental cleaning for the rest of her senior years. 


Oratene Brushless Oral Care for Pets.  Line of brushless products for pet dental health care. Safe to use on Dogs and Cats.
Zymox's Oratene Brushless Oral Care products for pets

Oratene's Brushless Pet Oral Health Products help keep your dog's teeth clean and prevent dental disease.  They make it easy to kill harmful bacteria and germs, and remove plaque biofilm in your dog's mouth to restore oral balance.  

Oratene's oral care products use two patented enzyme systems not found in other enzymatic oral care products to boost the natural oral flora, help protect against gum disease and dissolve plaque biofilm, and inhibit the bacteria that cause bad breath.


> Oratene brushless oral care products contain two patented, natural enzyme systems, the LP3 Enzyme System and the MD2 Enzyme System (Mutanase + Dextranase).  

Oratene Water Additive for pets is easy to use.  Just 2 cups of water + 2 pumps of the additive in pets water bowl daily.

> These enzymes inhibit harmful odor-causing bacteria and remove plaque biofilm.  The LP3 Enzyme System destroys bacteria and fungal microorganisms while restoring the oral balance in a pet's mouth.  The MD2 Enzyme System makes plaque water soluble and unable to bind to the teeth.

> Oratene Oral Care products do NOT contain CHLORHEXIDINE, XYLITOL, ALCOHOL, OR DETERGENT, and is safe for dogs and cats to use daily!

NoteAccording to Oratene, the Water Additive can be used in a pet water fountain however "the filter MUST be taken out or it will remove the active compounds, and it will plug up the filter."

**** PRODUCT GIVEAWAY!! ****  


Nearly 80% of dogs over age 3 have dental disease, the most common dog health problem.  Pet health.  Dental disease in dogs.  Pet dental health.
Zymox Oratene Brushless Oral Care for Pets PRIZE PACKAGE; Toothpaste Gel, Water Additive, & Breath Freshener!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

If your dog is taking medications, or if you just want to improve your pet's oral hygiene and bad breath, give Oratene Pet Dental Health Products a try.  Oratene Brushless Oral Care products for pets are safe for both dogs and cats!

Zymox also offers a complete line of skin care products for pets.  If your pet suffers from allergies, Hot Spots, Hair Loss or general poor coat condition Zymox has a number of products that may help.  They also offer products for wound care and skin infections.  Fortunately, I haven't had a need for skin care products for Icy or Phoebe.  They don't have allergies or other skin issues.

What do you think about the convenience of a brushless oral care system for pets, is that something you would try?  Leave us a comment and tell us!

Friday, January 19, 2018

3 Blog and Social Media Video Mishaps To Avoid

Most of us realize the importance of video for both our blogs and social media accounts.  If you want to grow your blog and social audiences, good video content is a must!  

2016 saw the launch of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.  2017 was touted as "the year of video marketing", with a huge increase in consumer's preference for video content in pretty much every area.

According to WordStream, internet video traffic made up about 69% of all global consumer internet traffic in 2017.  The growth of  the online video evolution continues into 2018 and beyond, with global internet traffic from videos projected to make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019.  According to Cisco, video is expected to make up 82% of all internet traffic by 2021.

By 2019,  80% of all internet traffic is expected to be from videos

Now that we know how vital video has become and will continue to be, let's not screw it up by making bad videos!  One of my key goals for 2017 was to improve my video skills.  I was coming from a near zero starting point so I need to master the basics of making and editing videos.  I knew it would take some time to learn how to make a good video, but I didn't realize just how much time it would take to learn and how many blunders I'd make along the way!

Here are 3  Video Blunders I made in the last year or more that kept me from turning out quality videos both for my blog and my social media channels.  Learn from my mistakes, and have a good laugh in the process!


I wanted to create a video to show how I make one of my frozen dog treats.  I was so happy, my video seemed to be going really well!  I set the shot up with the blender and ingredients ready to go, and I didn't flub any of my "lines".  I thought, this is gonna be a really good video.  Until it wasn't.  I almost had it, my video was nearly complete, and then this happened......

BOL!!  So the lesson here is, if you're using an appliance, tool or any other mechanical gadget in your video, test the darn thing out first!  I was so flustered and frustrated, I never did re-shoot that video. 

It was one of my very first attempts at making a simple video.  If I had learned how to edit video back then I could have re-shot just that segment and dropped it in, saving my dog treat video from ruin.  But I hadn't yet mastered any video editing skills at that point.  My Frozen Pineapple Jerky Pupsicle blog post ended up having only still photos of my recipe.  So sad!


When shooting video, background Noises can be a killer!  I was excited to land a sponsored post for True Chews dog treats.  I loved the product and the concept and I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my video.  I got started right away to create a heartfelt video about my journey with my shelter dog, Phoebe.  

I swear it was like a comedy of errors trying to create a video!  I envisioned this beautiful video, shot outdoors at one of our favorite dog friendly cafes.  I would tell Phoebe's story as she sat on my lap and I sipped a cup of tea. Sweet, right?

Noise is the enemy of video, especially outdoor video!  We had a lot of challenges trying to film a dog treat video for my blog!        Blogging tips, creating video for a blog and social media channels.
Setting up in my yard to film the opening portion of my True Chews video
We got a table on their outdoor patio, which faces the street.  I had tea and a pastry for myself and True Chews treats for Phoebe, and we were ready to roll!   Well, I thought we were ready, but who knew just how much background Noise can get magnified on video!?   I guess I hadn't noticed the traffic going by while we were there.  When I got home and played the video, it sounded like I shot it in the middle of Grand Central Station!  Even audio noise reduction in a video editor didn't reduce the background noise enough.  I had to do the whole thing over the next day, choosing a better location.

Down the street from the cafe was our favorite park, right on the water.  It seemed like the most serene spot to shoot the video.  We carefully selected a nice spot on the grass and I began speaking.  Suddenly, a small plane began buzzing overhead!  I was like REALLY!?  What are the odds??  We were nowhere near an airport!

We decided to wait out the darn plane, and when it left we returned to the park to do our video. Again.  As I began speaking, I kid you not, a large boat got slowly and loudly lowered into the harbor and began revving up it's roaring load engine once it hit the water.  I'm telling you it was the loudest boat ever!  I mean, what are the odds?

So now I'm really ticked off about all the noise, and because it was a beautiful late October day, people started pouring into the park with their dogs.  We decided to leave and come back the next morning when it wasn't so crowded, yet again!

The next morning we arrived at the park to find a hoard of gardeners mowing every inch of grass in the entire area!   We went to the cafe to have breakfast and wait out the gardeners and their deafening mowers.  After about an hour they left and once again, we headed into the park camera in hand.   

The park was crowded with people and dogs by then.  At this point I decided that if I could get some good video of us enjoying the park and the cafe, and learn how to do voice-over audio on a video that would do it!  

We finally did shoot some really good video footage in the park and the cafe.  I spent time learning how to edit audio using Filmora video editor and created my voice overs.  After the final touchups I had a finished video to include in my True Chews blog post. I'm really proud of that video,  I think it came out great, but it took a lot of re-shoots and a lot of editing, simply because of outdoor Noise!  Here's how the final video came out:

Lesson learned:  Noise is the enemy of video!  If you need to film outdoors, find a quiet spot - and I mean Quiet.  Arrive at your location during a time when there are as few people, utility workers, trucks and other noise makers as possible.  Sounds simple I know, but believe me, it's Not!  Oh, and learn how to edit audio on a video.


As with photos, lighting plays a huge part in creating a good video.  Lighting has often been the bane of my existence.  I finally got the lighting issues for my indoor photos under control, but lighting for indoor video is still a challenge for me.  

Lighting is important for both indoor and outdoor video.  Bad lighting can ruin your video. Lighting for indoor video can sometimes be controlled by adjusting indoor lights and window shades.  You can also get a simple, inexpensive light set like this one by Limostudio, for staged indoor videos.  This lighting set helped me so much with my indoor photos, and now I'm starting to use it for my indoor videos too.

A simple light set will improve your blog photos and videos tremendously.  Lighting set, lighting for blog photos and videos for a blog or social media
A simple lighting set is great for indoor photos or video
My indoor videos of the dogs are often spontaneous, so I don't have the time to work with lighting.  They come out looking dark and grainy, like this:

Don't worry!  My dogs aren't fighting, Icy is just trying to get Phoebe to come out from under the chair and play with her.  But Phoebe is having none of it!

I continue to have lighting challenges with indoor videos, but I'm working on it.  I've had to scrap many of my videos because they just came out too dark, and video editing can only do so much.

With outdoor video you have to be aware of where the sun will be during your video shoot.  Scope this out in advance if possible.  If the sun is in your subject's face, they'll be squinting and that can be distracting for the viewer.  If the sun is directly behind them it could create shadows, making the visual look poor.   This is definitely not easy, I still struggle with it a lot myself.

There's nothing worse than thinking you've shot a great video, only to realize that the lighting is terrible and the video shows poorly! 

Those are my 3 biggest sticking points in creating a good video.  Leave us a comment and share your blog and social media video challenges and goals!!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Treating Pets With High Tech Veterinary Services

Weeks ago I mentioned that I had the pleasure of visiting a state of the art veterinary services clinic in Florida.  I promised to share more with you about that visit, especially the fascinating 3D Printing technology being used to treat pets at this veterinary clinic, so here it is! 

Pet parents are using Veterinary Specialists more and more for advanced pet veterinary care.   Dogs, Pet health, Advanced Veterinary care for pets
With Dr. Mark Walter, friends from Bayer Animal Health and a few of my pet blogger friends at Capital Veterinary Specialists in Jacksonville, Florida, opened in 2015 by Dr. Walker BVSc, DACVIM 

Dr. Walker opened Capital Veterinary Services, JAX , a specialty veterinary clinic in Jacksonville Florida, to serve Northeast Florida and South Georgia pet parents.  We loved meeting Dr. Walker and his compassionate, expertly trained staff!  It's easy to see their high level of expertise and feel their passion and love for the exciting work they do. 

Dr. Walker gave us a tour of this beautiful state of the art facility and some of the specialized veterinary equipment they use to help the pets that visit them for expert veterinary care and services, including:

🐶 Anethesia

As we were talking with Dr. Walker one of his staff doctors came into the exam room carrying this weird looking contraption.  I could not for the life of me figure out what it was!  If I can be honest, I'm embarrassed to say I thought it was some kind of machine used to repair a piece of equipment in the room!  I saw the spool of what looked like white wire at the top and I thought, is this Veterinarian going to repair something?!   Don't they have a maintenance guy for that?  He's a doctor for heaven's sake!

3D printers are being used more and more for advanced veterinary care for dogs, cats, and other pets.   Advanced veterinary services like imaging, hydro therapy for dogs, canine rehabilitation, advanced imaging, and other veterinary services for pet health
A 3D Printer being used to treat pet injuries at Capital Veterinary Specialists in Jacksonville, Florida

It's funny now to think of how perplexed we were, but this weird looking machine is actually a 3D Printer!  They use it at the clinic to treat pet's injured limbs or other bones.  I think we were all transfixed on this strange looking machine, trying to figure out exactly How they use a 3D printer to treat an injured pet's bone and exactly how it works.

The spool of white "wire" you see on top of the machine is actually the material used by the machine as it forms a precise replica of a pet's injured bone.  

3D printers are being used at this veterinary specialist clinic to treat pet injuries. A model of the pet's injured bone is made using the 3D printer to better assist the Veterinarian in treating the injured limb in dogs, cats, or other pets
Replica of injured pets' bones, made utilizing this 3D printer

Digital files are created from Images taken of a pet's injury, such as from an MRI or CAT scan.  These files can then be translated into a format the 3D printer can recognize and understand. 

The printer then prints out layer upon layer of the material to create a bone replica, based on digital files of the injured bone that have been sent to the printer.  

The materials used by 3D printers can vary; plastics, rubbers, etc. can be used.  One example of a material used is a plastic polyactic acid  (PLA) filament.  

Displayed on the table in the photo above are 3 model replicas that were created by the 3D printer, based on injured dog limbs.    

In the below photo you can see what the inside of a piece of 3D "printed" bone replica looks like.

The inside of a replica of a dogs injured limb, made using a 3D printer.  Veterinary specialists are using 3D printers more & more to help injured dogs, cats and other animals
View of the inside of a pet bone replica created using a 3D printer

The replica created by a 3D printer isn't actually placed inside the pet's body, it is used to form an exact replica of the injured limb or other skeletal body part.  This enables the Veterinarian to handle a model of the pet's injured body part to gain a better, more precise understanding of the injury prior to a surgical procedure.   

The material that will be placed inside the pet can be more precisely and accurately formed using the replica crated with the 3D printer.  The replica is used as a model to create and accurately form the piece of metal orthapedic material, or other material, that will be placed inside the pet's body.  Replicas created with a 3D printer can also be helpful in testing out multiple treatment options.  

It was so interesting to see a 3D printer and learn how it works, and how it can be used to improve treatment of skeletal injuries to pets!

In their Canine Rehabilitation Department, Capital Veterinary Specialists has both a hydro therapy tank and a swimming pool.  Both can be used for Canine Rehabilitation.  

In the hydrotherapy tank, dogs receive treadmill therapy,  where dogs walk on an underwater treadmill.  The buoyancy of the water helps the dog get a low impact treadmill workout.  This type of rehab therapy for dogs is becoming very popular with pet parents.

Hydrotherapy tank where this Veterinary Specialist used underwater treadmill therapy to help injured dogs in injury recovery

Canine rehabilitation focuses on improving postoperative outcomes for orthopedic, neurological and soft tissue surgical procedures.  

It is also used to treat nonsurgical diseases like osteoarthritis, canine athlete injuries, weight management and non surgical spinal injuries.  It's also useful for field trial and agility conditioning and strength training.

It's amazing how Veterinary services have become so advanced and specialized!  That makes me really happy knowing that such advanced therapies for treating pets are available.  I would do whatever it took to help my dogs recover from an injury or disease.  I know you would too!  

We had some really interesting conversation with Dr. Walker and some of his staff.  We talked about how they run their practice, the significant advancements that have been made in pet food over the years, and specialized veterinary medicine in general.

So many advancements have been made in specialized veterinary medicine, including the use of 3D printers to treat bone injuries to dogs, cats, and other pets
I'm glad so many advancements have been made in Veterinary medicine! 

As most of us know, in recent years many pet food companies have been consolidated into huge corporations, like Belgian company Mars Petcare.  What I didn't know is that similar to the health care community for humans, many veterinary providers are also being consolidated into larger corporations.

It was interesting to hear that corporations in the pet industry have acquired a large number of Veterinary services providers.  For example, Mars Petcare has acquired Banfield Pet Hospital, Veterinary Centers of America (VCA Animal Hospitals), and BluePearl Veterinary Partners.  They even own the Wisdom Panel Dog DNA test kit company.  

Just like in human medicine, consolidations abound! In case you're wondering YES! it's the same Mars company that makes M&M's, my personal fave, as well as Twix, Snickers, and other delicious candies, including the Mars chocolate bar of course! 

We'd like to say a giant THANK YOU to Bayer Animal Health and Dr. Mark Walker for making this visit to Capital Veterinary Specialists possible!  It was so educational, and really Fun meeting Dr. Walker and his talented veterinary staff!

On our trip to Jacksonville, we also had the privilege of visiting  K9s For Warriors where we learned how they are helping military Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disability (PTSD).

Have you ever used hydro therapy for dogs or experienced 3D printing to treat a pet's injury?  Let us know in the comments!