Saturday, September 13, 2014

A spooky giveaway: Jones Natural Chews Boo Bucket *SPONSORED*

Jones Natural Chews is one of the sponsors of the Lulu's Favorite Things Campaign, which raises money for Harbor House of Central Florida's Paws for Peace Kennel.

Please consider donating to their newest campaign, the Purple Purse Challenge. If you donate, they have a chance to win thousands of dollars from the Allstate Foundation, to help domestic abuse survivors re-establish their lives.

It's starting to feel like fall for some of you. Some of you are even getting snow.

Not here in Florida. Saturday has a high of 91 degrees.

"I choose the pool life." -- Lulu
Not to say it doesn't have its benefits, but it's time for pretty leaves, apples, pumpkins, jackets, cinnamon, mulled cider and Halloween!

Time to get the dogs interested too. And here's a chance to get you excited for Halloween too!

If you follow Life With Beagle, you've read our Jones Natural Chews reviews before. This is one of their newest and neatest treats.

The bucket has nine items in it and is reuseable: a Windee, 2 Lambly Links, 2 Woofers, a beef Knee Cap, a beef hoof, an "other pig ear" (a piece of pig chin) and a bacon roll.

They are all great treats if you are looking for a special treat that keeps the dogs busy for a while.

In case you didn't know, I love Jones Natural Chews. Their products are made in the USA, all natural (they rarely use anything other than the basic meat product) and are a family-owned company. Their products are not too expensive either.

And, of course, the dogs love them.

Jasmine tried her first beef trachea. It's tough for Lulu to work on, but Jasmine was able to get in there and break it open.

Lulu chose the bacon roll from the bucket, which is a favorite of hers.

Just don't try to take it from her.

Now for your chance to win!

This giveaway is for one Jones Natural Chews Bow Wow Boo Bucket, mailed to your home in time for Halloween! Enter the Rafflecopter now through Oct. 1 for chances to win. There's only one mandatory entry -- you have to leave a comment on the blog below.

The fine print:

This post is sponsored by Jones Natural Chews. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Jones Natural Chews, but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. JNC is not responsible for the content of this article.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Facebook must change its policies on animal abuse

I saw another one today.

A fellow Facebooker and blogger posted a story about someone dousing a kitten with gasoline and setting it on fire. Then they put the video on Facebook. People complained to Facebook to get the video taken down.

Facebook. Did. Nothing.

In fact, here is what they said, according to the article in The Daily Mail:
"People come to Facebook to share experiences of the world around them and on occasion this may result in the sharing of content that some may find upsetting. 
"While we do not allow content that directly encourages violence, we try to create a safe environment that balances people's desire to express themselves and in some cases condemn what they see."
This is the Facebook Community Standard for graphic content:
Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences and raise awareness about issues important to them. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, it is to condemn it. However, graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence have no place on our site.

When people share any content, we expect that they will share in a responsible manner. That includes choosing carefully the audience for the content. For graphic videos, people should warn their audience about the nature of the content in the video so that their audience can make an informed choice about whether to watch it.
 I get what Facebook is saying. I just don't agree with it.

On the one hand, by allowing these people to post these videos we are able to find where the abusers are and alert the authorities. Many have been caught and arrested this way.

It happened in this case from Brevard County, Florida in 2013 where a teen shooting animals in cages. He posted the video on Facebook for friends to see. But eventually he was caught and arrested.

Or this case from France earlier this year, where a man was arrested for posting a video of a kitten being thrown against a building.

If they can't post on Facebook, these people will just find another corner of the Internet to post this stuff, like 4Chan, where the rules are practically nonexistent.

But for Facebook there is a higher moral problem. Facebook's people know full well how viral videos work. Context is not something that follows with the videos. There is also a danger of copycats seeing this stuff.

The other problem is there is plenty of evidence that shows Facebook is not always taking down the pictures and videos that are of a sadistic nature.

What can we do?

 Well, here's a crazy idea -- don't share the videos when you see them! With anyone! Report the video, then share the person's Facebook page, not the video itself.

What do I want Facebook to do?

I think Facebook needs to listen to the people. When someone complains about these videos they need to be taken down. But then Facebook needs to do one more thing. They need to report these cases. They have the data on who these people are and where they are from. They need to be reported to the authorities.

So how do you get Facebook to listen? Because there are like two dozen petitions out on the petition sites and nothing seems to change Facebook's mind.

Facebook is a publicly traded company. It's time to hit the shareholders.

Now, I don't have contact information, but I have found some places where we can start getting contact info. These are the people who have the power to change policy at Facebook. Talk to them.

The website Who Owns has a list of all the stakeholders in the company, and where they work now. If I can find contact information I will post it here.

More info is on the Yahoo! Finance page.

Mark Zuckerberg has his own Facebook page, for those who don't know.

So does his dog, Beast.

Don't threaten. Don't get nasty. Just make it clear -- you want changes. Don't get emotional, don't ramble. You want changes because morally it is the right thing to do. These videos should be taken down when posted, whether they are contextually "sadistic" or not. And Facebook needs to make a greater investment in making users understand they they will report animal abuse the way child abuse is reported.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lulu the beagle shows her Disney Side at the Magic Kingdom

If your dog had a Disney Side, what would it be?
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida hosted a Disney Side Dog's Day at the Magic Kingdom. For the first-time ever, non-service dogs would be able to go to the Magic Kingdom. But you had to submit a photo of your dog, costumed, showing her Disney Side.

As a Disney nerd, I knew I had to get Lulu in. But we didn't have much time to construct a costume for her, so the above picture is what I sent in: me as Peter Pan, Lulu as Tinkerbell.

Lulu and 100 other dogs got selected! (101, get it?)

I got a green Thundershirt for Lulu to wear, since I knew she'd be needing one anyway, and we got up bright and early for a couple of hours at the Magic Kingdom.

We walked the "green carpet" to Cinderella's Castle.

We got to meet some characters. Goofy, Pluto, Bolt, Stitch, Dug and Cruella were out. Lulu's met Pluto before and by this point the overstimulation was getting to her, so we skipped Pluto and Goofy. No Mickey though.

Then we went on a doggy parade to see some of the park. The parade took us into Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square and some of Fantasyland before letting us out through Cinderella's Castle and back on to Main Street.

I got to take a photo with her in front of the Haunted Mansion Pet Cemetery!

Casey's Corner wasn't open, so we couldn't share a hot dog.

We all got treat bags to take home, and some other goodies too.

Want to see more from Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom? Check out the video from the Disney Parks Blog, plus, coming in October there will be a special on Animal Planet!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day: Dogs by the numbers

Happy National Dog Day!

We all love our doggies, right? What do you know about dogs? Here's some fun facts.

Kristine Paulus, via Flickr Creative Commons
  • The American Kennel Club recognizes 180 breeds of dog.  But there are another 66 breeds in miscellaneous breeds or foundation stock service. 
  • 62 percent of households in the U.S. own at least one dog.
  • Pet spending in the U.S. for 2013: $55.7 billion.
  • 20 percent: the number of dogs adopted from shelters. 
  • 33 percent: Dog owners who talk to their dogs over the phone, even leaving them voice messages.
  • More Dogs live in the U.S. than in any other country.

Dog anatomy 
  • Dogs sweat through their foot pads.
  • Dogs have about 1,700 tastebuds, while humans have 9,000.
  • Dogs are not colorblind. They just don't see colors as vividly as we do.
  • Dogs can see in the dark thanks to a special membrane in their eyes.
  • Dog eyes also have a third eyelid which keeps the eyes moist and protected from dirt.
  • Bloodhounds have 300 million scent receptors, beagles have around 200 million. Humans have around 5 million.

Doggy Smarts 
  • The average dog can understand at least 250 words and gestures. Chaser the border collie purportedly knows over 1,000.
  •  According to American Kennel Club, a dog's intelligence is based on trainability (us beagle lovers know better).
  •  Dognition helps owners better understand their dogs and their level of intelligence.
  • Pekingnese dogs were bred to be dog guards for the Chinese emperor. Smaller pekingnese were also kept in the sleeves as a last line of defense.
  • Dogs can smell cancer, studies show.
  • The smaller a dog is, the more likely they are to dream.
  • Dogs can be left or right handed. Dog puzzle inventor and trainer Nina Ottosson says some dogs are also "paw dogs" and some are "mouth dogs," referring to how they attempt to solve puzzles. 
What's your favorite doggy fact?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Do you like what I do? Here's how I do it #MyWritingProcessTour

"Do you like what you do? Do people like what you do? Do you get paid to do what you do?" -- Richard Pryor to Eddie Murphy

For about 2 and a half years now I've been blogging. And I kinda like it. I'm learning a lot. And I like to share what I'm learning. I hope you like what I'm sharing.

I was invited by Christina Berry of The Lazy Pitbull to answer 3 simple questions about my writing process. You can check out her post by going to her website

So I am going to answer the same three questions, and afterward I will tag three people to answer the same questions. Then they'll tag three people, and so on and so on and so on.

Here are the questions:
1) What am I working on? Lots of stuff. I checked and I have several different posts in drafts. I have a habit of starting on something and stopping, then working on something else and forgetting all about the other story. One, for instance, seeks to ask why some dogs like to cuddle and some don't. Another looks at hounds in the military. I also have an advance review of "The Dogs Were Rescued (And So Was I), Teresa M. Rhyne's follow-up to the best-selling "The Dog Lived (And So Will I)." I also want to start looking into stories for the fall, including Halloween, Daylight Saving Time and Pet Diabetes Awareness Month.

2) Why do I write what I do?  Would you believe I'm still trying to figure this out? lol. I started the blog because I wanted to chronicle my adventures as a new pet parent. But those stories have fallen by the wayside. I'm not an expert by any means, and I still base a lot of what I write on what I'm learning. A lot of what I write about is based on interest of the topic. Anything beagle is of course fairgame! 

3) How does my writing process work? Well, maybe 80 percent of my process is research. I'm constantly looking for info and storing for stories in the future. I have lots of emails full of links. Eventually I get to those stories. I try to find experts for my interviewing. 

Then comes a lot of staring at the computer screen. Then getting up and walking around. Then going to work. Then staring at the computer screen at work in between writing stories for work. And driving around, writing in my head. I write a lot in my head. Then eventually I put those stories on the "paper." But the process is not done. I try really hard to include pictures that work for the stories rather than random pics. That also takes a lot of time. And I will go back over a day and edit and re-edit. So my stories are never really done. But I've learned that if I didn't let my ideas out before I was finished, they would never see the light of day.

And now I tag...

Three lucky bloggers have agreed to take part in the #MyWritingProcess Tour. Please check out their blogs.

Flea Christenson: Flea is the awesome blogger from Jones Natural Chews. She shows us how these awesome treats make dogs happy. Plus, she has her own dogs. And ducks and chickens and things. 

Lee Allport: Lee is an Orlando-based blogger. She does entertainment and product reviews. Her blog is crazy popular. She's a Nielsen Power Mom and a Huffington Post Blogger. We met at a Star Wars Disney press event (because I don't just like dogs). She's part of the reason I got into blogging. Her blog is My Sentiment Exactlee.

Kelly Green: Kelly is another Orlando-based blogger. Her blog is about SeaWorld, and she's also a home school mom. She and her son go on all kinds of adventures. She also does work with Give Kids the World, an amazing charity in the Orlando-area that provides vacations for sick kids and their families. I met her through Lee. Her blog is SeaWorld Mommy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to be a dog mom and a single working girl

Last night I read something that raised my hackles.

It's an article on called "Top 5 Reasons You Do Not Deserve a Pet."

Now, there's a lot in this article I agree with. A pet is a lifelong commitment that shouldn't be entered into lightly. You should consider the cost of owning a pet, the fact that they grow up and get old, that the "newness" and maybe even the "cuteness" will wear off.

But the number 3 reason, "you work a lot of hours," really got to me.

Because I do work a lot of hours. Oh, and to add to that, I'm single. I also don't have enough time to drive home and let the dogs out on a lunch break. And I don't have a dog sitter, and Lulu can't handle doggy day care (she can't handle an hour at the groomer).

"I miss you when you go to work."
So why bother having dogs? In both cases one of the reasons I did it so the dogs would not end up rehomed or back in a shelter. Yes, in Lulu's case she also came to keep me company after my home was broken into, but my parents had also been asking me if I would be willing to take Lulu because they were having trouble with her.

I did it because I love these dogs. I love Lulu and Jasmine.

It would have bothered me less if the point was brought up in a "Reasons not to get a dog" story. Then the point reminds people that it can be a problem and you take it into consideration. It's the word "deserve" that bothers me. Like I don't deserve ice cream because I didn't eat dinner. That to me implies punishment.

In fact, the very definition includes the word "punishment:"
to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation:
to deserve exile; to deserve charity; a theory that deserves consideration.
Besides, there are a lot of people in this world who are single and work full time. If we told all those people they couldn't own a dog, they don't deserve a dog, how many potential animal adopters does that ban from saving animals in shelters? Pets on death row are a much bigger problem to me than pets at home waiting for their owner.

Lulu at the shelter, Nov. 2009
 So how does one be a single working girl and a pet mom at the same time? I did it. I think I'm rather successful at it. Here are my tips:

1) Know your dog. I have a friend who has a German Shepherd mix. She takes her dog on 3-mile runs. Then he sleeps with the TV on while she's at work. Oh, and he's a puppy in a studio apartment. No problems. But she knows what she needs to do to make sure he's not a behavioral problem while she's away.

Now, fortunately she's an active person (she ran the Boston Marathon and did Iron Man). So she wanted a dog who could run with her. If you're practically a couch potato like me, this wouldn't work. So know what is required to keep your dog happy and out of trouble BEFORE you get a dog.

Lulu and a friend at the apartment complex dog park.
2) Keep your pets active. I take my dogs for walks. When Lulu and I lived in my one-bedroom apartment (a beagle in an apartment, heaven forbid!!), we went for at least a 20 minute walk in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at night when I got home. We also had the dog park in the complex and the one about 15 minutes away and we used it frequently.

Now I have a screened in patio and a backyard which will eventually get fenced in. And Lulu has Jasmine to run around with. They keep each other active. And they tire each other out. Then they relax throughout the evening while I'm at work. A tired dog is a happy dog.

3) Keep them mentally stimulated. I play games with my dogs. We do training stuff. I have puzzles and treat balls. It also aids in exhausting them while I'm away, but as long as they have things to do, they keep themselves busy.
4) Don't crate them if you can help it. If you tire your dog out and give them things to chew on you shouldn't have to crate them all day. Then they have freedom of movement. Lulu since training has stopped chewing. Unfortunately with Jasmine I can't trust her not to get into a fight with Lulu. Jasmine has to stay in the crate.

ADDENDUM: I just want to add that I don't dislike crate training, though I have a mental block about it. I prefer confining the dog to a space in the house rather than the crate. When I'm gone Lulu is confined to the kitchen, dining room, and my master bedroom. If I didn't worry about Jasmine and Lulu mixing it up I would let Jaz out of the crate.

5) Spend time with them on your days off. Take them places -- a walk on Main Street, the beach, the park or just for long walks. Make sure your dogs socialize with other dogs. Take them for classes. Do training, it helps bunches.

Ideally, if I could stay home with my dogs all day, I would. The world isn't perfect, and we have to make do. It hurts me when Jasmine gives me the big eyes when she goes in her crate, or when I see Lulu's tail go down as I walk out the door.

But I'd rather Lulu and Jasmine were at home waiting for me than waiting for someone to save them in a shelter. No it's not the perfect situation, but it is possible to make it work.

I'm not the only blogger who feels this way. Check out Jessica Shipman's post over at Beagles and Bargains and Jen DeHaan's over at Dogthusiast.

Please feel free to agree or disagree below.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dog meets dolphins on a St. Augustine Eco Tour

There are lots of ways to bond with your dog -- cuddling, playing fetch, going for a walk. But there's nothing quite like doing something outside the norm and experiencing something that's new for both of you.

St. Augustine Eco Tours takes guests on a trip through the fragile ecosystem of the Matanzas Estuary. The tour group offers guided tours with boats, catamarans and even kayaks. Each tour is guided by a well-trained naturalist. The goal of St. Augustine Eco Tours is to show people the natural world of St. Augustine and how important it is to keep it pristine.

And your dog can tag along.

I didn't know how Lulu would handle being on a boat. She wasn't a fan of the water. I bought her a life vest but Captain Zach McKenna said it wouldn't be necessary.

Lulu was fine getting on the dock until we got to the boat. Then she froze, her paws splayed out. The deck was crooked and the water was so close that it freaked her out (I told you she wasn't a fan). Capt. Zach helped me pick her up and put her in the boat.

Turns out Capt. Zach was right. The boat, the Cetacea, was perfectly safe for Lulu, with an inflated bulkhead that was high and sturdy. The Cetacea is a rib rigid hulled inflatable boat and used to be used by the Secret Service.

We departed from St. Augustine Marina and headed north, past the Castillo de San Marcos and out toward the Atlantic Ocean. The water was calm, there was a fair wind and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Bring a really good camera! Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Eco Tours.
 We started relatively slow, watching for different estuary residents -- birds, turtles, manatees, jellyfish. But we were lucky this trip. There's always a 50/50 chance that you'll see dolphins. We were surrounded. It's important to keep a distance from wild dolphins so we don't disrupt their movements. But we could see the pods, and when we stopped the boat, Capt. Zach would drop a device into the water and we could hear the dolphins moving around us.

Lulu watched it all from a safe distance inside the boat. She didn't get up on the edge to look into the water, even when we weren't moving. But you could see she was fascinated. Her nostrils flared in and out as she tried to smell everything. Her ears flapped in the breeze as the Cetacea picked up speed and headed into the Atlantic. I held on to the seat for fear I might fall off as we flew across the water, but Lulu did just fine.

On the way back though Capt. Zach stopped the boat and fished out a cannonball jellyfish. It's a big bulby looking thing, and it doesn't sting but it is a bit slimy. Inside there's a spider crab, a tiny creature that has had a symbiotic relationship with the jellyfish for centuries. And oh, yeah, they are eaten all over Asia.

St. Augustine Eco Tours' Dolphin and Nature Tour:
$40 / Adult
$35 / Kids ages 3-12
$15 / Infants 2 years and younger
$199 for PRIVATE tour (can bring up to 6 guests)

Tours take off from St. Augustine Marina every day. Each tour is guided by a well-trained naturalist. The goal of St. Augustine Eco Tours is to show people the natural world of St. Augustine and how important it is to keep it pristine.

For more information, call 904-377-7245 or go to the St. Augustine Eco Tour website.