Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, new pet: An audit for 2015

For Howl'd Lang Syne, me dogs, 
For Howl'd Lang Syne.
We'll lick a bowl of kindness yet,
For Howl'd Lang Syne!

Happy New Year!

Here comes 2015! Are you ready? How about your pet?  

Now is a great time to take stock of your pet(s), and your relationship with your pet(s). If the new year is a good time to renew yourself, It's also a good time to renew your pet.

I've broken down some pretty basic categories into questions you should ask as we head into the new year.
  • FOOD: How is your pet's food? Is your dog getting enough food? Do they look healthy (shiny fur, bright eyes, healthy poop)? Now is a great time to think about whether you should look for a better food or different food for your pet.
  • WEIGHT. Is your dog's weight ok? Remember this chart:
 Now's a good time to check your pet's weight and see if they need to lose weight. Are they getting enough exercise? I learned this year that just letting Lulu out the backyard was not enough to get her a workout. The vets say her weight is ok, but I'd like her a little more slim, just on the safe side.
  • PHYSICAL/MENTAL STIMULATION. It's time to play! Your dogs need more than a squeaky toy though. Are you taking them out to play? Are you giving them things to figure out? Are you getting them new experiences? Teach them new tricks, take them walks to new places. It keeps them young and healthy! Not to mention yourself. It's better for them than just lounging around (though that's good too).
  • VETS/BOARDING/GROOMING. Are you happy with your vet or the other people who handle your pet services? Now is the time to research another one if you are in the market. That way you are ready when it's physical time.
  • COMFORT. How's that dog bed looking? The crate? The collar? Now is a great time to look into new ones -- inventory time for stores is a great time for clearance sales.
Take stock of your pet, and have a great new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

See who won the Deck the Dog House photo contest

I know you guys have been waiting for this: who won our #DecktheDogHouse photo contest?

First, a word on the contest.

I was looking for something different to do this year. Almost everyone is doing a Holiday Gift Guide, and I had planned to as well. In the end, I was inspired by Snoopy decorating his dog house in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

I didn't know how many people would actually take part in the contest. I thought if I got 10 entries, I would be surprised. I got over 20!

So I think we will do this contest again next year!

And next year I will have more for you guys: clearer rules, and more prizes and more winners! For instance, next year we will split the dogs off from other animals so that people with cats and ferrets and chickens and things will have their own chance of getting prizes.

On judging, I want to say that I chose two random people to be judges. One was a pet blogger, the other was a non-blogging friend of mine. Then my mom broke the tie. They judged on two things:

1) How well people followed the spirit of the contest by decorating their pet's living space. (this was objective)
2) Creativity. (Admittedly, this was a more subjective and vague category).

I now present the winners of the #DecktheDogHouse photo contest!

Drum Roll please!

Winner of Prize Pack #1 is:

Hayward Gillam, Tony Gillam's Cocker Spaniel!

Winner of Prize Pack #2 is:
Kolchak, Jodi Chick's puggle and his Charlie Brown-inspired Christmas decorations!

Congrats to Jodi and Tony. I will be contacting you both and giving your information to Hallmark!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. I hope everyone stays with us into the new year! We'll have more chances for you to win prizes.

Before you go, I would appreciate it if you would do me a favor.

I am asking for nominations (something I don't normally do) for the Sunshine Blog Awards. To be nominated, you have to be a Florida-based blogger (which I am).

I'm asking readers to please nominate me in the "Other" category. You have until the end of the year! Thank you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#Deck the Dog House: Check out all the entries

There's our #DecktheDogHouse week three entries! We got a lot of great entries for the contest. We'll be judging this week, and two people will get Snoopy-inspired prize packs, courtesy of Hallmark.

Take a look at all the entries, one more time!

Good luck, and thanks to all the entrants!

Monday, December 15, 2014

#Deck the Dog House Christmas Contest: Week 2 Photos

Hey gang!

I am in love with the entries we've gotten so far from the #DecktheDogHouse photo contest!

Pet owners decorate their pet's living spaces and take pictures! Enter to win prizes from Hallmark's Peanuts Collection! Full details can be found in my previous article.

Here's a look at some of the awesome entries we got in our second week!

 And take a look at the entries from Week 1:

Have you entered yet? Why not! It's really easy, and if you don't really want to decorate for real, just use a paint program like Gimp, Photoshop, PicMonkey and more!

Decorate your dog's dog house, crate, bed or living space. Don't have a dog? This contest is open to cats, rabbits, birds, ferrets, rats, turtles, fish, chickens and other pets!

Just enter on Life With Beagle's Facebook or Twitter accounts. Be sure to use the hashtag #DecktheDogHouse, so I can find you easily.You can also email me at

You have until Dec. 20!! Good luck!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Christmastime is here

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Take a look at some of the dog-related ornaments in my collection.

That's my I have a bunch of Hallmark Peanuts ornaments. This one recreates the Christmas play scenes in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Above that one is Max, the Grinch's dog in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Nice Beagle ornament, huh? It's one of the Sandcastle ornaments. And yes, Stitch is right underneath.
And some more of my awesome Charlie Brown ornaments.
  • What are your favorite pet ornaments? Comment below!

Monday, December 8, 2014

#Deckthedoghouse: Week 1 photo entries

Hey gang!

Are you getting ready for the holidays yet? It's time to #DecktheDogHouse!

Last week I introduced our first ever photo contest! Pet owners decorate their pet's living spaces and take pictures! Enter to win prizes from Hallmark's Peanuts Collection! Full details can be found in my previous article.

Here's a look at some of the awesome entries we got in our first week!

Have you entered yet? Why not! It's really easy, and if you don't really want to decorate for real, just use a paint program like Gimp, Photoshop, PicMonkey and more!

Just enter on Life With Beagle's Facebook or Twitter accounts. Be sure to use the hashtag #DecktheDogHouse, so I can find you easily.You can also email me at

You have until Dec. 20!! Good luck!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Win Hallmark prizes with the Deck the Dog House photo contest

On Tuesday "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs on ABC -- the first of hopefully many airings this holiday season! Yay Snoopy.

Do you remember this scene?

Ok, so Charlie Brown wasn't quite as happy about Snoopy embracing the commercial side of Christmas. But who doesn't love Christmas decorations? They give the holiday a beautiful glow. So if your pet could decorate their living space for the holidays, what would it look like? Here's your chance to figure it out -- and win prizes!

 From now until Dec. 20, decorate your pet's dog house, cat condo, crate, cage, bed or other living space! Take a picture and either post it on the Life With Beagle Facebook page, the @LifeWithBeagle Twitter account or email me at Be sure to include the hashtag #DeckTheDogHouse!

UPDATE: Just making it clear, this is not just for dogs. Owners of cats, rats, birds, turtles, fish, ferrets and other creatures are welcome.

Three judges will chose the top two winners. Now there are two ways to decorate. You can:
  • Actually decorate your pets' living space. Should you choose to do this, remember that some decorations are dangerous to pets, including garland and Christmas lights. But if you want you can decorate the area, take the picture and then remove the decorations.
  • Digitally add the decorations, like I did in the picture above. You can use any computer program you have handy. I did that one above with, which has some cool overlays.
Winners will get one of two prize packs from Hallmark, full of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Peanuts goodness!
  • Prize Pack One: 2 Snoopy plush, a box of Peanuts Christmas cards, a Snoopy and Charlie Brown wire figurine and a Peanuts Advent Calendar.
  • Prize Pack Two: 1 Snoopy plush, a box of Peanuts Christmas cards and a Snoopy wore Figurine.
So, to reiterate:
Life With Beagle's Deck the Dog House photo contest
  • Dec. 1 to Dec. 20
  • Decorate your pet's living space, either in reality or digitally, and send the picture via Facebook, Twitter or email with the hashtag #DeckTheDogHouse!
FINE PRINT: Void where prohibited by law. Contest runs Dec. 1 through Dec. 20. Hallmark is providing prizes for the contest but this is not a paid contest.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snoopy, show dogs, beagles, oh my! Invading your TV this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving week!

What are your TV traditions during this holiday? The parades, football?

Well this week we have a whole lineup of doggy delights on television that you should check out!

Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving -- It's not a holiday without Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang. This time around Peppermint Patty and Marcie join the group when Patty invites herself over the ol' Chuck's place for a Thanksgiving dinner Charlie Brown didn't even know he was throwing!

Thursday, Nov. 27 at Noon on NBC
The National Dog Show presented by Purina -- the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's annual show featuring John O'Hurley, David Frei and over 150 dogs! Can't see it at noon on Thanksgiving? It airs again Saturday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Thursday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m on Fox
Fox's Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular -- A celebrity-filled tribute to inspiring dog stories. Among the dogs we'll see: five Beagle Freedom Project alums strutting their stuff on stage, including Percival and author Teresa Rhyne. But it's also a chance to find a home for dogs who need families. Find out more on the Cause for Paws Facebook page.

One Christmas Eve -- Are you ready for a Christmas movie? You may not be, but at least this one features a beagle! One Christmas Eve is about a newly-single mom who wants to give her kids an extra special Christmas. But the discovery of an abandoned beagle starts a chain of crazy events. But it's the Hallmark Channel, so you know everything works out in the end, right? Right?! Learn more about the movie on the Hallmark Channel website.

What are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving week? The food, the family time, the shopping?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Keep Orlando dogs at home: Ideas to keep pets out of shelters

This is a post for Orlando's BIG Exchange Blog-Along to find a solution to an issue here in Central Florida.

Every year, around 20,000 dogs and cats enter Orange County Animal Services in Orlando.

And every year, almost 10,000 are euthanized. About half.

There are lots of reasons pets end up in shelters. But if you've ever walked through a kennel and looked at each of the cards, what will break your heart is how many were surrendered because their owner couldn't take care of them -- either they had to move or the pet had health problems or the owner simply couldn't afford it anymore. I'll never forget the times I've watched people walk out of a shelter crying because they had to surrender their pet.

Lulu was one of those. Her owners were moving and couldn't take her with them (no pets allowed). She was only six months old. Fortunately she was also at Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, which is almost a no-kill shelter.

The dogs and cats surrendered to Orange County Animal Services are not as lucky.

The Metro Orlando area remains one of the top in the country for foreclosure. How many people are still forced to leave their homes and have to give up their pet?

Unfortunately not every issue is salvageable. For people with a dog considered an "aggressive breed," many apartment complexes shut the door. If only there was a way to deal with that...

But I think we in Orlando can find a way to keep more pets with their families. It is much cheaper for the county if these pets stay with their families than if the shelter has to care for them.

Chyna (A305742) is a year old and at Orange County Animal Services.
Establish a fund for animal assistance 

Groups across the country provide assistance for people who need medical help, apartment help, etc. For instance, Orange County Animal Services has a pet pantry. In the page for the pantry, this is written:

"Life can throw surprises at you," said Dil Luther, division manager of Orange County Animal Services. "Anyone can be caught off guard by unexpected expenses like car or health issues and we do not want financial struggles to separate a pet from a loving family."

But while we have some scattered efforts to help with spaying and neutering, micro-chipping and even food, we don't have a dedicated fund to help people better afford their dogs.

My suggestion is modeled after Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program for students. In exchange for county tax credits, Orange County-based businesses donate to the fund, which is run by the county.

Money in the fund is split up into three categories: home assistance, medical assistance and behavioral assistance. Residents (and they must be full-time Orange County residents) then apply for a one-time grant for one of those three categories.

  • Home assistance can be used to pay for pet deposits and pet rent, a growing expense in the apartment rental world. 
  • Medical assistance can be used to pay for extraordinary veterinary bills (not for routine office visits). The fund can work with a choice group of vets to reduce the cost of those services (Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has a clinic that provides reduced services).
  • Behavioral assistance allows pet parents to get financial help to pay for a trainer/behaviorist for their pet. They must work off an already-vetted list of trainers/behaviorists that the county has. 
This fund should not affect the overall budget for Orange County Animal Services.

Luna (A305889) is 3 years old and at Orange County Animal Services.
Tax credits to keep pet deposits down

In addition, the county should also offer tax credits to landlords and apartment complexes who reduce the cost of pet deposits and pet rent to make it more affordable for residents. 

Pet rent and a rise in pet deposits is a growing problem for apartment renters in the U.S. Some apartment managers say they need the safety net against pet damage, but according to a recent CBS article, some managers say they charge it because they can. 

Pet deposits in Orlando can run from $250 to $500, and in some cases are charged per pet. By reducing pet deposits, not only will it help people trying to keep their pets, but it might encourage people to adopt too. 

Dexter (A293832) is a year old and at Orange County Animal Services.
Community bulletin boards to promote low cost services

But why stop there? Remember when I said there were scattered services for people who need help caring for pets?

Did you know about Orange County's pet food pantry? How about Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando's low-cost vet services, including spaying or neutering? Or Pet Alliance's Meals on Wheels for seniors program? 

Do people know these programs and others even exist? 

In city dog parks like Lake Baldwin Park in Winter Park and Sanford Paw Park, there are big community bulletin boards. 

In Orange County's parks, any bulletin boards are often not close to the dog parks. They're closer to bathrooms or playgrounds.

I suggest using money from the parks and recreation budget to put up those bulletin boards immediately outside the parks and keep updated listings for this information and other events. 

People don't go to parks? Make it a point to put this info in the hands of those who can help -- vets offices, pet shops, apartment leasing offices, community centers, malls and more. Put it together in a new adopters packet and hand it to shelters and rescue groups to hand out. Hand it out at farmers markets, fairs and other events. This information needs to be easier to find.

Scrappy (A220855) is 9 years old and is at Orange County Animal Services.
By handling these issues, we can hope to keep pets out of shelters and in their homes. But those aren't the only pets we save.

There's a saying in the animal rescue world that I will paraphrase here: Keeping a pet out of a shelter saves two pets: that pet, and the one who could be euthanized. By reducing the shelter pet population, Orange County Animal Services can give more time to pets in the shelter who need a little extra help to get out.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rehoming your beagle: Dos and Don'ts

Before we start, I just want to get something out of the way.
  1. I am not judging anyone who needs to find a new home for their beagle.
  2. I am not trying to enable people who are looking for an easy way out of pet ownership.
But the reality is every month I get at least one email from someone seeking help with finding a new home for a pet beagle. It's heartbreaking to read. Everyone has a reason for what they do.

If you are rehoming your beagle, here are some things to think about first:
  1. Is the problem a behavioral one? Not housetrained, or barking and going crazy when you leave? Or perhaps the dog is moody, even bitey? Have you contacted a trainer or a behaviorist in your area for help?
  2. Is the problem a medical one? Can you not afford the health costs associated with your dog's condition? Have you looked for a cheaper vet, or alternative care, or a group that can help you locally?
  3. Is the problem a cost one? Can you not afford the cost of owning a pet anymore? Have you looked into food pantries, or thrift stores or discount stores for needed supplies?
There are other questions I could be asking: kid with allergies? Significant other says you have to get rid of the dog? Landlord says you have to get rid of the dog?

These are not areas I am willing to get into because my responses probably will not be helpful and simply upset you in an already upsetting situation.

So if your mind is made up, and you getting rid of your beagle, here are some dos and don'ts.
  • DON'T just drop your beagle off at your county/city pound. Many pounds will kill your pet, and if they are an owner surrender they may not get a waiting period before they're put down. That's not fair to any pet.
    Now in a place like Orlando where there aren't a lot of beagles in the pounds, the chances are good a beagle will be adopted or rescued, but don't take that chance without reason. The pound should always be a last resort, and always done with a bit of research.
  • DO contact any shelters that use euthanasia as a last resort, or are "No-Kill."
  • DON'T just put your beagle up on Craigslist. Lots of people put dogs up for sale or "free to a good home" on Craigslist. Even if you try to do background checks on the person taking your dog, there's no guarantee they aren't just going to flip the dog, or worse -- use it as dog fighting bait or just plain abuse it.
  • DO talk to your vet. Vets can be very helpful in this regard, if only because they know lots of people who might be interested in taking a dog.
  • DO contact your area rescues. Rescue groups have foster networks that might be able to take a beagle in. This won't always work though, especially if you have a pet with an illness that needs help. Also, some rescues may not have enough fosters to care for an owner surrender. Don't just look at breed-specific rescues either. Need to find the rescues in your area? Look at Adopt a Pet or Petfinder.
  • DO get on Facebook. There are lots of Facebook groups out there for dog lovers, especially crosspost groups for pets that need homes. 
  • DO ask your friends. Friends and family may be more willing to help than you are aware. 
  • DON'T just set your pet loose outside. That's a good way to get them killed.
As a rule, I don't personally post re-homing pets on my social media pages. It would open flood gates. But there are lots of people who do. You just have to find them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#WholeBodyHealth The poop about dog poop (with no pictures)

This post is sponsored by Natural Balance and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Original Ultra Whole Body Health Pet Food, but Life With Beagle only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Natural Balance is not responsible for the content of this article.


Lets have a serious discussion: how's your dog's poop?

I am totally serious and I promise I will not illustrate this point with pictures.

Your dog's poop says a lot about how well your dog is and how well your dog is eating.

So when we're talking about digestion, what are some important things to know?

Courtesy Merck Manuals
1) Your dog really shouldn't be pooping more than one or two times a day.
2) The poop should be firm -- not too hard, but you should be able to maybe touch it with your foot without squishing it (if you must test this, wear shoes).
3) Gas shouldn't be a major issue because of the food -- no burping, no farting (now if your dog eats too fast, that's another matter).
4) Color should be good -- no black flecks or red tinges. If you're seeing that, you should probably go to the vet.

If Lulu is laying out for a while after eating, she probably ate too fast.
To do this, you want good protein. You also want good fiber.

Now fiber is broken down into two kinds (and this true for us humans too, so watch the nutritional info on your cereal boxes): insoluble and soluble fiber. In nutritional info on dog food bags though you will only see "crude fiber." That has nothing to do with the quality of fiber, only the quantity, so be sure to know your ingredients. Soluble fiber is dissolved in water, while insoluble fiber absorbs water.

When it comes to digestion, you want both. Soluble fiber helps slow the movement of food though the system. Insoluble fiber takes in lots of liquid. Using either one can help prevent constipation or diarrhea (that's why you can give pumpkin to a dog to help when stool is soft).

Insoluble fiber controls diarrhea and soft stool by absorbing moisture. Soluble fiber meanwhile ferments in the colon and helps repair the organ, thus helping to prevent colon cancer.

Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health dog food uses several fibers, including oat and pea fibers (soluble fibers). There's also a number of vegetables in the ingredients, so it has layered fibers. And potatoes are insoluble fibers.
Chicken, Brown Rice, Oats, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Dried Carrots, Duck Meal, Salmon Meal, Pea Fiber, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Flaxseeds, Brewers Dried Yeast, Menhaden Oil, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Tryptophan, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Dried Spinach, L-Lysine, Dried Kelp, Dried Yucca Schidigera Extract, Rosemary Extract.
Layered fibers help maintain digestive balance. No matter what food you get, you want to make sure that they have a good mix of insoluble and soluble fibers.

Digestive health is one of the important things readers specified when it comes to pet health in the #WholeBodyHealth survey a couple months ago. Take a look at this infographic to see more results.

Interested in trying it for your dog or cat? Here's you chance at a coupon.

Click here to download a coupon for $3 off the Original Ultra Whole Body Health dry formulas. Act quickly as the coupon expires December 31.”

And for more updated and promotions from Natural Balance, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Oh, and while we're on the subject -- scoop your poop! Don't leave it on the ground where it can seep into our water supply.