Saturday, July 12, 2014

So, this is awkward...

I received this message in my email on Monday:
"Hi Leslie,

Congratulations! Your blog is a finalist in the 2014 Petties category for Best Video Post. I have attached the 2014 Petties finalist badge for your category.

Voting for the 2014 Petties will begin later today. We are currently working on setting the voting page live. Voting will continue until July 31st midnight PST. I will be reaching out again soon to get more information from you.

Congratulations again! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Christina Kwan
Director of Marketing and Product Development
DogTime Media, Inc

To be honest, I found out about it from some friends on Facebook before I even received the email.

So it should come as no surprise that I found out from the same friends that there was a new "complete" list of finalists. A "complete" list of finalists that was kind of missing some of the original finalists. I never did get a follow up to the original email telling me the first email was sent in error. What I got instead was a blanket "Hey yeah, sorry for the confusion, here's the real list."


When I was first told we were nominated for a Pettie in the "Best Video" category, I was psyched. I've made a few videos, worked my tail off to do so and thought, "Hey, that's cool that someone nominated us." I still think it's very cool that someone somewhere out there thought enough of us to nominate us for one of these awards. I really do.

But when I went out to see which video made the cut, I was more than a little confused. The video that we were up for was hardly worth the nod. So I guess I wasn't really too surprised when I found out that the first email about being a finalist was sent in error. And I'm REALLY glad I didn't rush out to tell you all about it.

However, some of my friends who were on the original list of finalists and weren't on the revised list are big-name and popular blogs who had every reason to believe they were appropriately nominated as noted in the first email. Kol's Notes, The Writer's Dog and Dog House Adoptions, Oz the Terrier and Pawcurious all deserved to be on that list and believed DogTime when they told them they were finalists encouraging them to recruit their followers to come out and vote for them.

When the "complete" list came out and they weren't on it, they had every right to be angry and embarrassed for asking their followers to go over and give DogTime the traffic. And they never even received the slightest hint of an apology from DogTime for the mix-up.

Not cool, dudes.

I feel bad for everyone involved. But here's the thing with my nomination. The video that made the selection for us didn't even make sense. I barely edited it, never mind slaved over it as folks who make good videos do. I knew something was wrong. I wasn't going to ask you all to vote for us because I was embarrassed by the video that ended up on that finalist list.

It's too bad though because I've made some good videos (the one "not really" a finalist notwithstanding.)

It would have been nice to get that recognition. It would have been even nicer to get the prize money for Save a Sato had I won. But I wouldn't have won with the video that was nominated and the folks who are in the finalist list deserve to be there where I did not.

Truth is, I had a video do everything I've ever wanted earlier this year - it went "viral". Well okay, it went "viral" in parts of the the scared-y dog community anyway. But really, no award can compete with how it feels to hear from folks who have been encouraged to keep working with their fearful dogs because they've seen evidence that these dogs can succeed in overcoming their fears.

If I had a choice, this is the video I would have submitted to the Petties for 2014. Who knows, maybe I'd have given some of the real finalists a run for their money.

"Bella Learns to Jump" was 18 months in the making. (I first wrote about it here.)

Bella was afraid of sticks and poles not to mention the clicker so we literally started with just a stick on the floor encouraging her to come into the room. She made this video and it's better than anything I could have ever done on my own.

There isn't an award in the world that can make me more proud of this crazy dog than what's in that video right there.

"The Petties, DogTime Media’s annual awards show recognizes the best of the pet blogging community. Through this program, DogTime has donated over $50,000 to shelters and rescues across the nation. In addition to bloggers, the Petties honor nonprofit organizations and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to helping homeless animals."

Bringing up Bella extends our sincere congratulations to all the 2014 Petties Finalists. Good luck to all!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"A Home for Brewster"

Last week Maggie Marton spent some time over at "Oh My Dog!" considering the question "Why do I blog?" I've recently been giving this question a lot of thought.

As you have probably noticed by now, I'm struggling to keep Bella's blog going. But in considering the question "why do I blog?", I was reconnected to what started this whole silly mess in the first place: Bella. And dogs like her.

I have been so blessed with the contacts and friendships I have made through this blog and so lucky to help a person here and there not feel so alone in dealing with their scared-y dog. I don't have all the answers. Heck, I don't know if I have any answers most of the time. But if one person sitting on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night trying to help her fearful dog cope feels just a little less alone in this world because of this blog? Well, hey, that's a moment I never anticipated experiencing when I started this endeavor.

But not every story about a scared-y dog is going to end positively.

Some people just don't have the wherewithal to deal with the situation they've been handed. Others may have family situations that prevent them from being able to tolerate the potential risks that come with keeping a fearful dog.

And then there are some who realize their personal situation just isn't the optimal life for the fearful pup. The ones who will sacrifice their own broken hearts to give their dog a chance at a better life.

My friend, Lorrie and her husband Tim, are those kind of people.

They adopted their dog Brewster, a handsome hound with an extraordinary fear of thunderstorms, from a local shelter in south Florida. If I recall correctly, they actually meant only to foster him but upon coming to understand the full extent of his fear, they felt they couldn't adopt him out until they had worked this issue through with him and adopted him into their family instead.

This really is one seriously handsome hound.
That was three years ago and they have diligently sought out every treatment path and plan to help Brewster learn how to cope with the thunderstorms that terrorize him.

But they live in south Florida where thunderstorm happen every day during the summer months. There is no escape to the basement for Brewster, no respite from the barrage of daily storms.

He is a great, social and happy dog during the winter but becomes anxious and depressed 6 months of the year because he has now generalized that cloudy days might mean the arrival of these terrifying storms.

But he gets so depressed...
Lorrie and Tim have come to the difficult decision that Brewster's life would be happier spent elsewhere - in a drier climate with the opportunity to escape the constant threat of his worst fears.

Towards that end, they have put together a beautiful website detailing everything they have tried to do to help Brewster overcome his fears and why they believe he would be better served living in a more temperate zone. The video on the home page gives you a glimpse into who these special people are and how much they love this beautiful boy.

Would you please help share their story and spread the word about the "Home for Brewster" webpage? After much research, they are aiming to find a home for Brewster in southern California and will personally transport him to his new owners.

Please take a moment to hop on over to his website to read more about Brewster, his tribulations and his wonderful adoring family who are willing to sacrifice their own broken hearts for Brewster's well-being and happiness.


Loves people and other dogs - he's an ideal pet sans stormy weather.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not a lot of words Wednesday

Anyone who follows Bella's page on Facebook knows I shared this picture there already. Sorry but it's so cute, I couldn't resist posting it here as well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday's Tails: Let's find Chipper a home of his own!

A very dear friend of mine reached out to me recently about a sweet little pup named Chipper. Chipper has some special needs but what he really needs is a special home of his very own. Please read his story below and, if you are so moved, help us share his story to find that very special family that certainly must be looking for such a cute little boy like him.

Chipper is a 4 year old male Japanese Chin mix. He had a herniated disc surgically treated a few months ago, and at present has minimal use of his hind legs and poor bladder control.

He needs someone who can lift and carry him at times (all 18 lbs of him). He has wheels to go for walks although he really prefers to cuddle. He's as soft as a bunny, a real sweetheart and loves everyone!

Chipper is currently living in a foster home in Franklin, MA. Transport is available. His contact is

The Tuesday’s Tails blog hop is hosted by Dogs N Pawz and Talking Dogs. This is the blog hop that features shelter pets. Find a pet at your local animal shelter or rescue and join us!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A thank you post to Petplan USA

When you're making a life or death decision about a beloved pet, how much it costs shouldn't be the deciding factor.

I learned the hard way about the value of pet insurance with my old boy, Beau. I know some folks have a different opinion about whether to pay an insurance company premiums or just save your own money to cover costs you may, or may not, encounter down the road but let me disclose some of my own financial experience for anyone considering it at this time in their life.

In Beau's 14 years, he had two surgeries for torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments), survived cancer, lived with epilepsy, went deaf, had laryngeal paralysis, pneumonia and who even remembers what else. In the last year of his life alone Beau had one life-saving surgery and hospital stay that cost us over $8,000 when all was said and done. And that last bill is the one that forever changed my mind about the benefits of pet insurance.

Me and my shadow, Beau.
When Beau was fighting for his life due to a critical bout with laryngeal paralysis we didn't know he had, we begged the vets to do whatever they had to do to save his life. The hospital estimated the cost at $4,000. Not having anticipated he also had pneumonia at the time, their estimate came in decidedly low.

Had I understood the physical toll spending two weeks in the hospital would have on his muscle mass and mobility, I may have made a different decision. But it didn't seem right that my boy, so happy and healthy the day before, should succumb to a simple flap of flesh that refused to open and close correctly.

Luckily we were in a position to handle the cost but when they presented us with a more than $8,000 bill after basing our decision on a $4,000 estimate, I had to wonder, would I have made the same decision had the estimate been more accurate?

Bella started out much healthier but we got insurance for her anyway before she was a year old. I did my research and chose Petplan USA based on online reviews, customer surveys and yes, cost. Below is a list of some such resources.

Seriously people, I am so over this crate rest thing.
Because Bella is a mixed breed, our rates were probably lower than some purebred dogs' would be. Our initial premiums were going at about $200/year. (A year!) As insurance premiums are wont to do, her's have gone up over time and ours are now up to ~$350+/year.

Petplan USA offers a few different plans - almost all are "illness/injury" based and the one we chose does not cover wellness or routine visits. However, per the plan we selected, Petplan USA reimbursed 80% of all of our expenses last year for Bella's left shoulder injury. That amounted to almost $2,000 for 2013.

At the time, we had paid in about $900 in premiums.

(We could have been reimbursed further had I realized at the time that Petplan USA even reimburses for prescriptions and physical therapy.)

This year we have already racked up (oh dog, I don't even want to think about it) $3,800 for Bella's right front lameness. ($4,800 if you count the holistic vet we tried to take her to who wouldn't touch her so we can't tie the visits to her injury but that's a whole other story...)

That means before we even got an official diagnosis, Petplan had reimbursed us almost $3,000 in 2014 (and the year ain't over yet!)

In total, over the six years we have had her, we have paid a little over $1,500 in premiums covering Bella. (Jan says they'll never sell us insurance again if we get another dog and maybe he's right. We shall see.) We have certainly received benefit from our investment in pet insurance.

Of course, the premise behind all insurance - be it pet or human, health or home - is that everyone pay a little so those who have unexpected expenses don't suffer hardship. I will get pet insurance for my next dog and may at that time pay in to a system I do not use.

But let's face it, dogs are dogs and they're going to have accidents, illnesses and injuries. Whether it's cancer or a bee sting, we will all incur an expense or two during the life of our furry loved ones.

On a final note, I want to take just a moment to say that I can't speak highly enough about Petplan's customer service - they're not just polite and professional, they're kind. When I called to ask if an MRI would be covered when Bella was in the ER, the customer service rep was very reassuring, not just giving me facts about our plan but offering her encouragement and support. Every dealing I've had with the company has been positive.

So if you're considering pet insurance, allow me to recommend Petplan USA. They have taken very good care of us allowing us to take very good care of Bella.

NOTE: This is an unsolicited post about a company that has treated us, as customers, very well. It is not sponsored by nor am I affiliated with Petplan USA except as a paying customer. The stories and opinions expressed throughout are entirely my own.