Yikes, Stairs!!!


You can almost hear this yelp from some dogs when they are faced with the dreaded stairs! Stairs sure can be a formidable challenge for senior dogs, all breeds of puppies, and some toy breeds.

Dogs in their Senior Years

I know a lot of you will relate to the day your beloved dog lets you know the years are getting the best of him or her. Stairs are the problem. Not so long ago, the dog bounded up those stairs, racing ahead of you, tail wagging, glad to be home. Nowadays, the dog stands in the hall, looking up the stairs, wondering if he or she can make it up them without falling. You put on your high, happy voice, chatting to the dog; taking his or her collar at the same time and both of you go up together. It works for a long while like this.   You two can do anything together whatever the challenge might be. Eventually the day comes when the dog is reluctant to go down the stairs, and when it’s time to go back up, your high happy voice doesn’t work anymore.


I experienced this with my black Labrador retriever. His name was Hector.

Hector lookalike (Google Images)

Now Hector was a very sneaky dog.   If you turned your back for a second, he was gone. He came back reluctantly when I recalled him.

Hector was an amazing hunter. We don’t hunt, but this didn’t stop our dog from doing what his breed demanded of him.  He considered hunting was his calling. We always took off his leash when we went for walks in the fields and ahunting he would go! When Hector brought us live pheasants with a sparkle in his eyes and his tail erect, you can imagine the looks of reproach we got when we released the poor squawking birds. We thanked him for his gifts, and even apologized, but Hector was not happy.

Gentle Mouth

Some hunting dogs have such a gentle mouth. Hector was one of them. When my daughter’s hamster escaped his cage, and she was sure he was lost forever, Hector would turn up, waging his tail, and placing the small creature right into her outstretched hands.

Whenever any of the family came home, he grabbed a shoe from the closet to present as a gift.  His tail and whole body was wagging with joy. He was always so pleased to see his people. We told the kids to thank him for his present, even when it was a smelly old sneaker.  Yuck, they said.

Most retrievers will do this if the owners understand it is part of their breed traits.  When they can’t please by retrieving game, they will grab a substitute.

Years Go by so Quickly

Of course we took Hector for granted. The children adored him and he went with us in the car for many adventures. Grey hairs appeared on his muzzle and he moved to action, not leaped. Our vibrant, active dog was suddenly becoming old. We acknowledged it, but were in total denial until he could no longer come up the stairs. He whimpered at the bottom of the stairs of our split level. My husband, Pete, had to carry him up. Then the day came when he couldn’t go down the stairs. Our back yard is down one long flight and then a short flight to the patio. We had a doggie door, mid level, but there is a step, and Hector could no longer use it. Pete carried him just like he did when Hector was a little pup up and down those stairs. Tears filled my eyes. They flowed down my cheeks as Hector’s bladder weakened, and I watched him being carried down the stairs and back up more often.

Time to let go

It was when Hector could not get to his feet anymore; we decided for his sake that it was time to let him go. Of course we had taken him to the vet and were told he had arthritis and lumbar problems and this was to be expected at his age. No, Mr. Vet, it was not expected. It wasn’t supposed to happen. This was Hector!

Eventually we had to relieve him of the pain he was in. The medications the vet prescribed worked at first and then they didn’t help anymore. We made our last visit to the vet with Hector and came home without him. I thought I would die, too, that day, I hurt so much.


They make ramps of any length nowadays. Hector was our first dog, and that was a very long time ago. Pet supplies now cover almost anything your dog may need. We would have installed ramps on both sets of stairs had they been available. Tonight, we built a ramp for Sammi to get in and out of the car more easily. She still manages the stairs, but falls getting into the backseat of the car. Recently, I noticed that her face has so much white in it. I look into her sweet face, talk to her gently, and feel the sadness I never want to come. She wags her stump of a tail.


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Sally steals Sammi’s bed

Will Sammi use the ramp? Well, it was dark by the time we built it, so we thought we should introduce it to her in the daylight. Cataracts give her poor vision. I’ll let you know how it goes.  We bought the ramp from Amazon.12061216_1110681598995347_1471714993_n

There are several gates and ramps available on Amazon. I will attach a link to help you explore the range.



If you have a new puppy and there are stairs in your house, you have to get a baby gate. Think of your pup as a toddler and install gates.

Going Up and Down Stairs

Of course, you are going to have to carry pups up and down the stairs initially. It is not long before they learn to go up and down all by themselves They are so proud of their new skill that some pups run up and down again and again just for the fun of it.

Toy Breeds

Most of these little dogs can leap on chairs and couches with ease. They are agile and light. Some will leap onto your lap without warning. Yet, some of them do not like stairs. It’s usually okay if your stairs are carpeted, but so many stairs nowadays are polished wood. Sally took her time accepting stairs, but my stairs have carpet on them and it wasn’t long before she raced up and down them. We took her to a friend’s house and we went down the wooden stairs to the basement to watch the kids play a Wii game. We heard Sally crying and found her at the top of the stairs. I called her, but she wouldn’t come down those wooden stairs.


Toy breeds are smart little cookies. Those wooden stairs do not feel safe to them  Could be they have slipped on wooden floors and remember the experience. Carrying them up and down for their wonderful long lives is not something you would want to do. Besides, they follow you everywhere and will be most upset if you are upstairs and they can’t be with you. You can carpet those stairs. You could add treads to them just for the little dog. But if you don’t want the expense of doing either of these options, an inexpensive solution was implemented by a friend of ours for her toy breed.


Java is a Papillon Chihuahua mix. When her owners moved into a new home, Java took one look at the flight of wooden stairs and decided she didn’t like them. Her owners understood she was afraid to use them and carried the little dog up and down. However, this became tiresome, especially when they were carrying other stuff.  Java doesn’t like being left at the bottom of the stairs.  True to her breed traits, she wants to be with them all the time.


After several months, Java and her fear of using the wooden stairs became a problem they had to solve.  They bought some rubber welcome mats and cut them into squares.  They put a rubber square on each step.  Yay!  It worked.  Java can now access the upstairs all by herself.

For those of you who live in a ranch style home, you probably never think of the problems some owners with dogs have with stairs. Stairs can be a serious problem when the dogs become seniors, when they are pups, or when the stairs are wood and too slippery for little feet.

If you want to contact me, please leave a comment or you can send me an email.  My email address is on About Us – top right.

Once again, it was fun chatting with you. Thanks for visiting my blog. Please come back soon for more tips and tails. 🙂

This dog is Obsessed!

The dog is a Great Dane and what he is obsessed about is trains!  We have racked our brains to work out the reason for his obsession. He is not a rescue dog, looking for his previous owners who may have travelled on trains.  In fact his owners have had him as a pup and they travel by car. The dog has never been on a train.  As most of you know, he is an Apollo of dogs.  We suggested Great Danes for Leos in AstroPups as there is no doubt that people with a Leo personality would be proud to own this dog and train it with a positive but firm approach.  Great Danes are good problem solvers and the one I am talking about, who is obsessed with trains, rarely changes his mind set.  The place he wants to be is the train station, and he always stands in the same place, by the tracks and watches the trains race by, or stop.  He was led home countless times, but he always managed to get back to his trains the moment he had the chance. People complained, as they were scared of this huge, unaccompanied dog. Nobody thought of him as being Scooby-Doo’s cousin that’s for sure. All he did was wait for the trains, but he is formidable.  He weighs, 160lbs and is very tall. When he stands on his hind legs, he is taller than most people. Children ran to what they thought was a little horse and parents panicked. His owners despaired of ever changing him and gave him away to someone who lived far from train stations.  I often wonder if he found a way to go back, but have no reports to confirm or deny this. Any ideas why he is obsessed with trains?


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Great Dane – Google Images
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Great Dane – artist Peter Solomon

Of course, could be he saw the love of his life – a Mastiff, Dalmatian, or another Great Dane at the train station one day and keeps going back to the same spot in the hopes of finding her.  Now there’s a thought.

Abandoned Pup

We had an obsessive dog, too, but she was far from being a Great Dane.  I was teaching one day and saw a notice on the teacher’s bulletin board that a four month old pup was going to be euthanized the following day.  Well, you know how I feel about that! The only detail they had on it was “my child is allergic to this dog and we need to find a home for it.”  I put a note beside it saying to bring the dog to the parking lot the next day after school and I would take a look at it.  Apparently the dog had been abandoned in a Michigan camping resort and found her way to one of my student’s parents’ cabin.  They were at the camp grounds for three more days, but nobody showed up to claim her and she was content to hang around them. They brought her home, but her son was violently allergic to her, and they had to find another home for the pup.

Jackpot in the Parking Lot

At first, I thought she was a Golden retriever mix, but her black/purple tongue told me she was part Chow.  Chows are quite large, but this pup was small for four months. She was sweet, friendly to the children who ran to her. I put her in my car, delighting her foster owner, and took her home.  The director of the school told me that she had advised the mother of the little boy who was allergic to put the euthanized tomorrow note up as she knew I would never allow it. I called her Trixie.  My husband loved her, but kept asking me when she would grow.  As you know, small dogs are not his favorite.  She filled out, but remained short

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Trixie was a delight.  She loved to run in the dog park and swim.  Well, she didn’t really swim, but kept looking back at us for our cheers when she swam about close to the edge, with all four feet on the bottom. The summers are hot and her fur was thick.  We encouraged her and never let on that we knew she had never actually gone for a swim.

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Trixie swimming.   Trixie with her best friend, Wrigley.

Odd Dog

Chow like, she preferred to sleep in the den, far from others.  Chows like their solitude times.  Then she got this obsession which drove us crazy.  We have a deck.  It covers what was once a patio so there is little room beneath it.  Mud, leaves, pine needles, rain, etc. find a way under it and so did Trixie.  The first time she decided to live under the deck, we thought we had lost her.  We drove around the block, frantically calling her name.  The backyard gate was closed, but maybe one of the children had let her out of the front door.  We searched every room.  It was getting dark.  People who have mislaid their dogs know how I felt.  We even called the police and Animal Control to see if she had been picked up, on the loose.

Trixie, Safe and Sound

In the dusk, I stood on the deck.  I didn’t know where else to look.  My husband was out in the car hunting for our lost dog.  I heard a scrabbling noise and hoped it wasn’t a mouse.  The noise continued.  Too much for a mouse or even a rat I decided.  Could be it was a raccoon, but it came from under the deck and there wasn’t room for a raccoon under there.  I got a flashlight to check it out.  At first, I saw her nose, then her mud covered head and finally she wriggled out. She was filthy, but I grabbed her and hugged her so hard.  My husband came back when Trixie was in the tub getting clean.  He was as amazed as I was as to where Trixie was.

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Trixie meets Sammi.  She mothered her for the rest of her life.

From then on, our goal was to keep Trixie from getting under the deck;  her prime goal was getting back under it. We used a concrete slab to block the hole she had used.  She dug under the flower garden around the deck and managed to disappear again.  When we couldn’t find Trixie, we knew where she was.  We built a little concrete wall to block the access from the garden, but that was a mistake as she came in with blood on her paws and a torn nail.

Permission Granted

Trixie had a bed in the den downstairs, as well as one in our bedroom, full access to any part of the house, a fenced yard, but for some reason, she wanted to be under the deck.  I gave in.  Unlike the Great Dane who could be injured by his obsession, Trixie was quite safe under the deck. I removed the concrete barriers, widened her access point, and even gave her a treat at her entrance.

About three months later, we noticed that she didn’t go under the deck any more. Whatever had caused her to need to be under there, was gone.  I sure miss that little girl. We lost her just after her thirteenth birthday.


We got Trixie because a little boy had allergies and they had to find a new home for her.  When it was discovered that one of our grandsons, Evan, had allergies to dogs, we were sad.  The poor little guy sneezed and broke out into hives at our house.  He could no longer come to see us.  This was horrible enough, but I was more upset that Evan would be denied knowing the joy of a dog.  When I went for a walk with him around the block in his own neighborhood, he shied away at the sight of a dog.  He was afraid of them.

Sally came into our lives.  tiny black dog


I knew Sally’s breed was non shedding, and I was advised that she would be good for allergic people, but when it came to my grandson breaking out in hives and gasping for breath, I wasn’t willing to test it.

It was Christmas.  Party plans were afoot. Sally was invited to the children’s party, but we declined for Sally, too worried she would give Evan an allergy attack.  All the kids begged to see her. Under pressure, we decided that since Sally was non-shedding and supposedly okay for people with allergies, we would give it a five minute try. Evan’s mom was consulted and she agreed.

We went to the children’s Christmas party, carrying gifts and Sally.  If Evan sneezed just once, Sally would be taken home immediately. What happened was so special. Evan, his face full of awe, petted the little dog.  Anxiously his mother and all the adults waited with baited breath.  No sneezes, no red blotches.

Evan hugged a pup for the first time in his life.  I will never forget the look on that little boy’s face.  It was truly Christmas magic.

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Evan with Sally

For those of you with allergies, there are a few breeds you could tolerate, but if dogs make you break out in hives, you are probably not reading my dog blog!

It has been fun sharing my stories with you.  Thanks for visiting.  Come back soon for more tips and tails! 🙂






More about that lunatic dog


I was asked to tell more about Kelly and her lunatic dog so here it is.

Kelly had told me she was getting a rescue dog, a German Shepherd called Max. She lives in an apartment, without a fenced yard, but planned on jogging with Max. Kelly was enthusiastic about getting both a companion for her runs and a protector when the sun went down. I like German Shepherds, but warned her that it was important to get some history on her new best friend. When Kelly called me back and told me she was the second rescue home Max had lived in, of course bells went off. I told her she would have to work with Max, gain his trust, and establish a bond so it would work out for both of them.

Kelly had adopted Max when she had vacation time, but she was called back into work for an emergency and was suddenly gone a lot. Neighbors complained that Max howled all day, sounding like a wounded animal. Upset by this, and not sure what to do about it, Kelly removed him from the large crate he was housed in when she went to work, and left him in the home, planning to return early to walk and feed him. Right, you guessed it, another emergency came up, and she came home late.

Poor Max. Abandoned again – his third home now, he took his frustrations out on the furniture. After Kelly had said several times “No good deed goes unpunished!” she was surprised that my sympathies lay with the dog. People kept letting him down.

Nowadays, things are good with Kelly and Max. They jog together all the time and their bond is so strong, Kelly denies ever saying she wished she had never got the dog. When Kelly has to be at work for long hours, Max goes to doggie daycare. If left at home when Kelly goes shopping, he no longer chews up the furniture.

Your lifestyle is important

Here’s where lifestyle plays a significant role when choosing a dog. You can work around it, as Kelly did, but it is an important factor if you are choosing a new breed of pup. Some breeds can stay at home quite happily all day if they can access the yard, or if you arrange for someone to drop by and take them outside.

Border Collkie
Border Collie (Google Images)

I think of dogs as being part of the family, even if it’s only a family of two, you and the dog. There are so many breeds to choose from, but you may have a particular breed in your mind’s eye and say, “I have always wanted a Border collie, a Rottweiler, or a Poodle.”

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Rottweiler (Google Images)


Poodle (Google Images)

These are just examples of dogs you may like. I could fill the page with breed names. Still, you get the idea and know what I am saying. Okay, you could be perfect owners for these breeds, or not. Will your personality and your lifestyle fit with the favored breed? It may or it may not. Is where you live important? Absolutely!

Lots of people get dogs they fancy, but when it doesn’t work out, they can walk away. Maybe they walk with a tear in their eyes, or are angry it didn’t work out, but they give up the dogs. Dogs have no idea why they are suddenly without a home, a loved master, or a place to be. Their world falls apart. Guess that’s why I am always on the dog’s side.

Odd Dogs

There are dogs which seem impossible – much like people. There is something wrong with the way they are wired, or they had a horrible puppy life and couldn’t get passed it. Even if you were the best owner for one of these dogs, they could break your heart. For the most part, though, breed traits do run true. I know people who have dogs so not like they are supposed to be, they are like a puzzle with pieces missing. Still, if you love your odd dog, you will probably keep it and scoff at all the articles on the breed. After all, you own him/her and know better.


Losing your beloved dog, your friend and companion through thick and thin, can be devastating. When people call me and tell me their dog has gone, they cry a river, as we do when we lose one of ours. Unfortunately there are breeds who bless us briefly, as the breed has a short life-span. Other dogs live a long time. For some, getting a new pup, or helping a Rescue by adopting a dog who desperately needs a forever home, is not possible. Their grief overwhelms them and they cannot even think of getting a “replacement”. Initially, I do not recommend getting a new dog to fill the vacated place in their hearts. People need to grieve for their dogs as they would for any family member. As time passes, I send them a link to a Rescue site, especially if I see that there is a dog, much like the one they lost, available and needy.

Boots is reincarnated!

Cheryl is absolutely sure her Basset Hound, Boots, has come back to her. She was devastated when Boots died over a year ago and was not interested in replacing him with another dog who could break her heart again. That was before she found Boots II. The moment she saw the pup, she said that she knew her very own Boots had returned to her. “He falls over himself, just like Boots did,” she said happily. “And he will do anything for a snack, just like Boots would.” I didn’t point out that breed traits usually run true. Besides, she could be right. As she enthused over all the identical things Boots II did, she almost convinced me.

 It’s a lovely concept don’t you think?  If we believed it, we would roam the country trying to find the reincarnations of our beloved Trixie, who died last year and Wrigley, who died five minutes after her best friend. They were so very close and if you saw one, you would see the other right behind. We grieved over both and were so grateful to have Sammi to cheer our days.  Well, I did say Cheryl almost convinced me, but I will leave such matters to the mystics among us!

You can contact me through comment or by email.  My email is on About Us – top right.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I will post more tips and tails soon 🙂


OMG, my dog is a lunatic!

I got a phone call recently from a friend, Kelly. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Finally, through sobs, I heard, “OMG, my dog is a lunatic. I don’t have a couch to stretch out on and watch TV. Now he is eating the carpet! Wasn’t the couch enough for him? I should never have got this dog!”

People have said that kind of thing to me a lot. Kelly’s dog was frustrated in his new home, missing his owners, and taking it out on the furniture. However, some people do make the wrong choice when picking a dog, and that’s what some of my blog is about.

One of the most important tips I can give you is how to get the right dog for your personality and lifestyle. Not all dogs fit as you well know, but I will introduce you to an amazing idea I had some years back on helping you to know yourself as a dog owner and the breed of dog who will be just right for you. There is more than one way, of course, but I have fully explored the concepts and will chat to you about how you can check yourself out as an owner. I am confident in my knowledge of the breed you may be thinking about.

If I can save one dog from being euthanized, I would be so grateful. Getting the wrong dog can and does lead to this sad outcome. Tears in our vet’s eyes when he put down a healthy Rottweiler because the owner couldn’t handle him prompted years of work of matching. He said, sadly, “I wish there was a way we could match breeds with people.” I set about finding ways.

One of the methods of matching personalities with breeds is by using sun sign (Zodiac) personality guides. A gifted astrologer, Jacqueline Chapple, helped me with this as I knew little about astrology except for checking out my horoscope. We know that a person is not just their suggested sun sign personality, but it is an established personality guide I could use to match breeds of dogs. I wrote a book about this and for those interested in this method, it is available on Amazon, or can be ordered through Barnes & Noble.

AstroPupsThe book is called AstroPups and is a fountain of information on sun sign personality traits as they apply to owning a dog. We thoroughly researched 85 breeds of dogs and suggested several breeds for each sign. The book is beautifully illustrated by an award winning artist. In addition, we offer helpful training tips.

Click on this link if you want to check it out:

Some astrology buffs think you should pick a dog by its sign. Could be that this might influence its personality, but breed traits are the way to define a dog.

If you are interested in other ways to choose the right pup for you, I will be giving ideas and tips on every post to this blog. I will also share friends’ and family’s stories about their pets and their adventures with them.

First, though, I would like to tell you a little about myself and my dogs.

I absolutely adore animals. They are a part of my life just as my children are. Right now, I have three dogs, Sally, Jake and Samantha.

tiny black dogSally is a toy breed, a cross between an Italian greyhound and a Bichon Frise.

When I was browsing in a pet store , this tiny black dog wouldn’t stop whimpering and looking sad. She was housed in an open playpen, so I picked her up to comfort her. She snuggled into me and absolutely refused to go back into her playpen.

I was looking for a Labrador pup, The pet shop was a center for local breeders, and you could see the breeders’ pups via video.

Maybe it was her bright little black eyes, full of trust, peering up at me that pushed the sale. I handed over my credit card and took Sally home. When I got home, my husband, Pete, took one look at the tiny pup nestled in my arms and said, in disbelief,, “What is it? I thought you were getting a Labrador. You’ve got a cartoon dog!”

Whoops, the lab pup was supposed to be my husband’s Christmas present and instead he got jeans and a sweatshirt. How many times have you bought something you liked for somebody else? That’s definitely what I did. Toy breeds suggested for my own sun sign (Libra) are an Italian Greyhound and a Bichon Frise. Merry Christmas to me!

Pit bullMy challenge dog Jake is a pit bull mix. One of my daughters brought him home to us as a rescue. At four weeks old, he was a solemn, small pup who was hesitant to receive affection. When I crated him with a soft toy and a blanket to cuddle into, he didn’t make a sound. True, our home was a new place, he had lost his mom and his siblings way too early, but it was odd that he was so very quiet. When I unlatched his crate in the morning, he just stared out at me and showed no interest in getting to know me. I advise people to get the friendly pup, eager to be friends.

Still, a rescue dog is a totally different story. That’s where the rescuers’ love for dogs is the only thing that’s important. People who rescue dogs often save their lives. Jake’s future would have been short and miserable had he not been rescued.

How that pup has changed. At over a year old now, and about 72 lbs., he is truly testing all my skills as a trainer. Those of you who have pit bulls may identify with this. Super affectionate and so much energy, he is like a speeding train when he goes on a runabout.

SammiJake has two best friends that he absolutely adores – little Sally and Samantha. Sammi is a purebred Boxer we bought ten years ago. From the start, she was perfect. Sammi was eager to learn, quick to obey, and soon won everyone’s hearts. Sammi loves her family and certain friends, but she is not eager to receive the affection offered by strangers.

To see Sammi as an adult, she is on the cover of AstroPups.

So many dogs, cats, rabbits, doves and even a parrot have been and are a part of our lives.  They have taught me as much as I have taught them. God bless them, they have made me laugh until my sides ached and cry a river.  Mostly, they have enhanced my life beyond measure.

Until next post -thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂