That time Hunter got a massage …

When you think of canine massage, you probably picture a dog laying on a table wearing a robe and getting his ears scratched. Or, maybe you think it’s a glorified petting session and just another way cute way to pamper your dog. You may be surprised to know that canine massage is actually a therapeutic practice that can be used to treat all sorts of issues, from stress to arthritis and injuries.

I had no idea what to expect when Hunter got invited to try out a canine massage session courtesy of Diane Pekarek, Certified Canine Massage Therapist and owner of Modern Dog Massage. Diane recently began a partnership with Holistic Lakewood, a human massage studio, to offer canine massage clinics periodically throughout the year.


I figured canine massage would be similar to a human massage and that Hunter would eat it up since he loves to be pet and get attention. In reality, the massage was very different than what you’d expect based on how a human massage goes. Which makes sense, since dogs are very different than humans.

First, there is no table for a dog to lay on. Which is good, since if you think about it, a dog would not be most comfortable laying on a table. As Diane explained, canine massage is all about making the dog feel comfortable, which can mean letting them wander around and get comfortable with their surroundings and the masseuse (as was the case with Hunter), before doing any massage. Since a dog has no idea why they are there, they can’t be forced into receiving a massage, they need to get comfortable with the situation first.

Hunter was definitely a little apprehensive. Unfortunately, I had taken him to the vet right before the visit, so he probably was still in a vet frame of mind when we arrived. Diane was very patient, explaining that many dogs are nervous on their first visit since they really don’t understand what is going on. Diane gently focused on certain areas, noting parts of his body where he was tight, and even mentioning some atrophy he has in his leg from a previous surgery he had. She is very knowledgeable about dogs and their anatomy and I could tell that she was focused on evaluating Hunter to see what his needs were and how best to make this a pleasant experience for him.

She said it can take a few sessions for the dog to get comfortable and understand what is going on, but most dogs adapt to the practice fairly quickly. Hunter spent most of the massage looking at me, which I thought was so sweet. I could tell he was nervous and wanted my assurance that this was ok.



The whole practice of massage was very eye opening to me. We talk so much about the stress relief our dogs provide to us, but do we ever think about all the stress they are taking on living in our world? A typical dog can deal with so much stress on a daily basis – from the anxiety of being left at home all day to the stress of visiting a dog park or accompanying us on our human activities – and it can take a toll on them in many different ways. I love the idea of doing something for my dog to help relieve some of the stress he may be carrying, but is not able to communicate to me.

Canine massage has many physical and emotional benefits, including relieving muscle and joint pain, improving circulation and immune functions, releasing endorphins as well as decreasing stress and deepening the human-canine bond. Although all dogs can benefit from canine massage, it is especially helpful for senior dogs or dogs with recent injuries. Diane encourages pet parents to watch the session and she provides simple massage techniques you can use at home. Each canine massage session lasts 30 minutes and is $40.

To reserve a canine massage session, call Holistic Lakewood at (216) 904-2524. They only schedule canine massages when there are no human massages scheduled, since not everyone may want to be greeted by a dog when going for a massage (crazy I know!)

You can find out more information on massage and Holistic Lakewood here:

You can find out more about Diane here as well: She also offers in-home massage sessions for dogs that don’t travel well and schedules appointments at her studio in Medina too.



Dogs Who Workout

Did you know Cleveland has a dog-friendly bootcamp? I’ve mentioned it before, but I still think it’s a relatively hidden gem for Cleveland dog owners. Thank Dog NEO bootcamp is such a fun way to get some exercise for yourself without leaving your dog at home. And the workouts are done in a park, so it’s a great way to spend in an evening outdoors doing something good for yourself and your dog!

Hunter, Roscoe and I just went back to bootcamp last night. We’ve been doing it for three summers now and we love it! Since we don’t get to it as regularly as I’d like (due to its distance from me and it being too hot lately for Hunter to exercise outdoors) it’ll take a bit of time to get Hunter back in the swing of things. He was a little uncooperative last night. The great thing about the bootcamp though, is that it’s all about doing things at your own pace. I bring Roscoe too and he handles it well. Since there is no interaction between the dogs in the bootcamp it can also be good for fearful dogs as well. The owner of the camp, Heidi, really lets you handle your dog the best way you see fit, so there’s no pressure to push your dog to do things he or she may not be comfortable with.

I’ve seen all sorts of dogs do it over the years – unfocused ones like Hunter, well-trained ones and hyper, somewhat aggressive dogs. Since the bootcamp does not allow dog socialization and instead encourages you to focus on keeping your dog under control, it is good for all types of dogs. Heidi meets with everyone who signs up before the first class to assess the dogs and go over what will be expected of your dog in the class.

Roscoe getting his workout on

We only do the bootcamp during the summer months, but it’s held all year long. During the summer, the camp is held on Wednesdays at Chagrin River Park in Willoughby, Thursdays at South Chagrin Reservation and Saturday and Sunday mornings at Beachwood Park. Although it’s a far drive for me, it’s totally worth it because it gives me a chance to check out some parks we don’t regularly go to. Since going to this bootcamp, South Chagrin has become one of my favorite parks in Cleveland. You can find more information on pricing and locations here:

Since I started going to the camp I have been hoping for a west side location and one finally opened this month! Unfortunately it’s a little too far west for me, in Lorain County. Classes will be held in Elryia at Black River Reservation on Thursdays at 6 and Grace Sprenger Memorial Park in Amherst on Saturdays at 9 am. Check out Thank Dog Fit for more information here:

To make it even easier for you to try out, there is a Groupon right now for the east side bootcamp. You can get five classes for $41 or 10 classes for $62. A great deal!

Read more about my experience with the camp here:

For the Love of Peanut Butter

So you’ve probably heard about the photo book, For the Love of Peanut Butter, that local photographer Greg Murray is working on. In the last few weeks his project has made not just national news, but international news as well. The project has been covered by the Huffington Post, Mashable, New Day UK and numerous local TV news stations.

Greg sent out a call for dogs to be in the book about a month ago, so of course I had to sign up my boys. If there’s anything going on involving dogs in Cleveland, they have to be a part of it! I brought both of them to the photo shoot, thinking that it might be hard to get a good shot of Roscoe, since he is so shy and fearful. Turns out I was totally wrong. Roscoe was a total natural, while Hunter decided he is totally over being a dog model.

“Stop forcing me to be a dog model, Mom!”
“Will work for peanut butter”

Hunter was the fearful one who would not sit still for a photo. I should’ve known based on his past studio modeling appearances, but my inner stage(dog)mom always comes out and I think he can do it. He’s just so photogenic when he can sit still! He was not a fan of the flash though and was too freaked out. Even the peanut butter wouldn’t motivate him past a certain point.

Greg got a great shot of Roscoe that will be in the book though. (Not  the one above, although it is pretty great.) You’ll have to wait until the book comes out to see it and the 100 other local dogs that will all be featured!

Greg has a kickstarter going to raise funds for the project. Although there are no spots left for dogs to be in the book, you can reserve a copy of the book, or a calendar, and support him here:

The book will be for sale starting late this summer.

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To see more photos and follow along with the project, follow Greg on Facebook and Instagram at clegreg.

Here’s Hunter’s one shot, before he decided he was totally over it.

“Will not work for peanut butter”

Dog-Friendly Office Spotlight: Embrace Pet Insurance

I am so jealous of people that can bring their dogs to work. The sad face my dog gives me on my way out the door to work pretty much makes me want to quit my job and stay home with him every time.

I’ll just wait for you here all day. Again.


There are so many benefits to having dogs at work – stress relief, team bonding, allowing employees to have more flexibility and, of course, cute dogs to look at all day! It sounds pretty great to me, and I know Hunter (maybe not Roscoe) would love to go to work with me.

Recently, I posted on Facebook asking what offices around Cleveland are dog friendly and got a few responses back. In order to spread the word about the benefits of the dog-friendly office, I am starting a new feature – the Dog-Friendly Office Spotlight. First up – Embrace Pet Insurance. Embrace is located on the east side and has been pet-friendly since the company opened, allowing employees to bring in dogs, cats or any other household pet. I sent some questions to Lead Content Strategist, Sara Radak, to get an idea of how their pet policy works and what some of the best things are about having pets in the office.

Read on to learn more about the dog-friendly culture at Embrace.

What pets have you had in the Embrace office?
Any household pet is welcome to visit. We’ve had cats, rabbits, bearded dragons, hamsters, and more. We have a small conference room that is the home to foster cats (currently from the Parma Animal Shelter, although we’ve worked with Berea ARF as well).

Why did Embrace decide to allow pets in the office?
Embrace is a company that’s founded on the importance of the animal-human bond. We share our lives with our pets and, at Embrace, that includes our work lives.

Are there any rules for bringing pets to work? Can employees do it whenever they want or only on certain days?
We have guidelines in our employee handbook. Each department has a fence around it and dogs must stay within the fence unless they are with their pet parent. They must be up to date on vaccines and healthy. Employees are encouraged to check in with others in their department before bringing their dog as not every pup enjoys company.

Dogs are welcome any day of the week. About once a month, we’ll have a cat-only day when felines rule the roost.

henry call


Has there ever been issues among the dogs?
There has been the occasional skirmish between dogs when personalities didn’t mix or play turned into something one dog isn’t comfortable with. Staff members are generally aware of their dog’s trigger points and work to avoid them. Thankfully, we’ve never had any major injuries and we continue to refine our policies and safety precautions to keep it that way.

What advice would you have for a company considering being pet-friendly?
I actually was just quoted in an article about that very topic. I think there’s some great advice in the article (and not just mine!):

Do you have any play areas or activities for the dogs?
Besides the fenced-in department areas, we don’t have specific areas for dogs to play. We do have a large open area at one end of our office that has many uses, including a great place for fetch.

Do you have any funny stories of something a pet did in the office?
We do yoga in the office and sometimes the pets like to join in – show their downward dog, climb up on those practicing, etc.


What is the biggest benefit of a pet-friendly office?

I’d say the biggest benefit of having pets at work is the excuse to get up from your desk and take a short break – whether it’s to play, take them for a walk, or just outside to do their business. We all need to get away from our work occasionally – I think it allows us to be more productive when we get back to work.

Do you work at a pet-friendly office? I’d love to hear about it! Contact me at

Photos courtesy of Embrace Pet Insurance

Shop Local for Pets!

If you’re going to shop on Black Friday, why not shop local? The Cleveland area has some great pet stores where you can all your shopping done (because you only buy for your dog, right? Oh wait, maybe that’s just me).

To kick off the start of the holiday shopping season, StyleMutt in West park, will be holding a Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sale. The event will include:

  • Buy 1 Get 1 Free Specials
  • $10 off any Human Item
  • Buy $75 worth of Merchandise and get a $10 gift certificate
  • Refreshments

Find out more here:

Shop local

And don’t forget to shop these local pet stores:

Cleveland-Area Pet Stores

Fetch Pet Spa + Boutique
250 Rockcliff Dr., Rocky River

Furry Nation
15800 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Natural Pet
8715 Ridge Rd., North Royalton

Pet’s General Store
16821 Madison Avenue, Lakewood

10906 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland

Snooty Pooch Boutique
Middleburg Hts.

Style Mutt
3525 Warren Rd., Westpark

One Lucky Dog Bakery
45 Public Square, Medina

The Grateful Dog Bakery
31966 Center Ridge Rd., North Ridgeville

Stay tuned for a full list of Santa Paws events next week!

CLE Dog Deals of the Week

Time for another roundup of local dog deals to check out this week! If you need to get your dog groomed, get a halloween costume or get a halloween photo taken (which of course you do!), there are some good deals to check out this month:

Fetch Pet Boutique + Spa

For all grooming appointments scheduled through October 17th, enjoy 20% OFF [one] spa service PLUS all merchandise in the Fetch Boutique.


Furry Nation

Bring in your old bag of food and receive a new bag for 10% off. Old bag must be a brand the store does not carry and you must also sign up for loyalty program (One bag per household.) Visit for more info.

Chewbone Studio

The pet photography studio will be hosting Halloween mini sessions on Oct 28. Reservations required (call or email or 216-280-2863).

halloween session

Also, book your studio holiday session by 10/16 and take an additional $25 off.

Snooty Pooch Boutique

Shop today (10/9) and receive 10% of all dog collars (use coupon code “autumn”). Also, all Halloween costumes are on sale. Visit to shop.

Grateful Dog Bakery

Get Halloween photos taken tomorrow for $10 (a framed 4×6 print). Proceeds go to the Friendship APL in Lorain County. Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the store. No appointments necessary.


City Dogs Cleveland

If you’re in the market for a new dog, City Dog Cleveland is offering half off the adoption fee on any black (or mostly black) dog. Check out the dogs here:

I think I’d take this guy home:


At Rescue Village a donation of any amount will go towards the adoption fee of any dog seven or older. Check out their dogs here:

Groupon Deals:

All Star Animal Training

Half hour or hour group training session for $15. Parma Heights area.

Pawsitively Savvy Petsitting & Grooming

From the merchant: Pet safe Lodging includes three outside exercise breaks, two dry meals and comfy cots and blankets to get cozy. Northfield area. $18-36 options (52% discount).

Oh and don’t forget to check out the Cleveland Pet Expo this Saturday and Sunday for more deals and to meet local pet businesses! It will be held at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. Admission is free. Find out more here:


Happy National Dog Day!

If there’s one thing you’ve probably noticed, it’s that I love dog photos. I love taking them, looking at them and sharing them. I hope that you do too, otherwise I am probably really annoying.

As much I love the photos I take, I really love a professional photo shoot. If you haven’t had a professional photographer takes photos of your dog, let me tell you, you are missing out. Seeing your dogs captured just being themselves in perfectly lit, beautifully shot photos creates memories you will always treasure.

To celebrate National Dog Day, I wanted to share some photos of my favorite guys taken by Brittany Graham, of Boots and Bee Photography. Brittany has taken photos of them before and I loved them so much I asked if we could do an outdoor photo shoot. Brittany does dog “model calls” from time to time, as she also provides photos for Darwin Dogs blog, so keep an eye on her Facebook page for the next chance to get photos taken of your dog.

These photos are also special to me because Roscoe and I just celebrated his one year Adoptaversary on Monday. One year ago I took Roscoe in as a foster for Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue and then quickly realized he was right where he belonged. These photos really capture how far he has come in a year from the scared little guy he was. He is still my shy guy, but he is so much happier and more confident (and snuggly) now than he was!

I also came across this great quote in this article (which you should definitely read) that I thought was perfect for National Dog Day. Pretty much sums up how having a dog in your life just makes everything better.

“Life is hard but it’s like Homer has taught me to use and take everything for the better rather than keep a negative attitude,” Koehl says. “Dogs just have a way of showing you the life you deserve to live.”

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Happy National Dog Day from Hunter, Roscoe and I!

Meet the Ladies Behind Cleveland’s Newest Food Truck…for dogs!

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time dogs got their own food truck. We’ve seen just about every type of food now being served in food truck format, why shouldn’t our canine friends be able to enjoy some roadside dining?

Cleveland’s first food truck for dogs, K-9 Café Food Truck, hopes to be up and running soon, bringing delicious, healthy treats to Cleveland dogs. The food truck is the brain child of Joann Orlando and Michelle Spehar, dog lovers and chefs who have a passion for organic and natural food for dogs. K-9 Café Food Truck will be serving gourmet, organic dog treats made with human-grade ingredients.  Based on the pictures of the treats they plan to sell, I think people might be lining up for the food without their dogs!

Joann and Michelle hope to bring the truck to dog events, dog parks, fundraisers -wherever dogs will be. Since I love anything that caters to Cleveland dogs, I am excited at the potential for the city’s first food truck for dogs! Read on to learn more about Joann and Michelle’s idea for the food truck. And if you like what you read, you can donate to their kickstarter to get the truck up and running:

Where did you get the idea for the K-9 Café Food Truck?

We wanted to figure out a unique way to get our treats to the public.  We got our inspiration from the food truck craze.  We thought we could reach more people by bringing the truck to dog events, dog parks, etc. rather than opening a brick and mortar dog bakery.

What type of treats can we expect at the truck? 

Healthy gourmet treats made from human-grade, natural and organic ingredients.  We’ll feature treats for all taste buds…Vegan, Vegetarian, meat lovers, frozen treats, dehydrated treats, and some “human food truck” inspired treats!

Where will people be able to find the truck?

Dog events, fundraisers, dog parks, apartment complexes…really, any dog-friendly place.  We will be letting our fans know of our location via Twitter and Facebook, this will allow dog lovers to have a gathering place to socialize and make new friends!  Also, one of our goals is to give back by donating to local dog rescues and organizations.

Do you have dogs? Which treats are their favorites?

Yes!  Michelle:  Roxie, who is featured in our video, is my rescue dog.  We were at a dog park in Medina, and someone dumped her out of their car and drove off.     We couldn’t believe it!   We brought her home and she’s been our family pet ever since. Favorite Treats: Roxie is not picky, she eats EVERYTHING!!

Treats 4

Joann:   Our family dog is Stella, a Great Dane, who we brought into our home after her previous owner could not take care of her any longer.  My daughter took Stella when she moved out, so now I consider her my “Grand Dog.”   Favorite Treat:  Stella is a little picky,  but she loves any of our treats made with meat!


Can you share your favorite dog treat recipe with us?

This is one of the vegetarian biscuits we will be offering from our truck:

Blue Hawaiian
2     Cups Oat Flour
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Blueberries
1/2 Cup Banana (tightly packed)
2      Tbsp Honey
2      Tbsp Shredded Coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix all wet and dry ingredients then add flour and mix until dough forms a ball.  Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick, then cut out biscuits with your favorite cookie cutter.  Bake at 300 degrees on middle rack for 20 minutes.  Turn oven off and let biscuits remain in oven an additional 30 minutes.   Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

What are your future plans for the truck?

Right now we are focusing on getting our truck ready for business.  We are also working on a line of all natural and organic dog grooming and pet care products that we will be selling from our truck and on our website.  It will be exciting to see what opportunities unfold for us in the future!

Food Truck Before:

Truck Before

Graphics for the food truck:

Like them on Facebook to keep up to date on their progress bringing the truck to Cleveland, or visit their website: for more info!

CLE Dog Deals of the Week

I get a lot of emails about different deals and promotions, including a lot of dog-specific deals. I’m guessing you do too, but probably like me, rarely read them. This week I noticed some good ones, so I decided to round up some of local deals that I’ve come across.

There are sales going on whether you need to get your dog groomed, get his photo taken or just stock up on food and treats.

Here are some deals to check out:

fetchFetch is celebrating their 2nd anniversary with some special deals. From May 11-16 they are offering:

  • Complimentary Blueberry Facials (with any grooming appointment scheduled May 11-16.
  • 25% off all merchandise
  • Free Goodie Bag with every purchase

Visit for more information.


Chewbone Studio in Westlake has extended their April promotion, offering a free 8×8 collage with any studio mini session. Visit them at for more information.


The Furry Nation in Lakewood, is having an online sale. Deals include:

  • 10% off Honest Kitchen Love Food and Treats
  • $3 off any bag of Earthbone Holistic
  • 50% Bixbi treats
  • 15% off sweaters and coats

Visit their online site for the deals:

Not technically a local deal (although pet sitters are local, so it sort of is), but Living Social is offering $60 to spend at on a pet sitter for $22 (temporarily reduced from $25) . I am going to be using Rover when I go out of town at the end of May, so I was excited to see this deal.

See the deal here:

Images courtesy of Fetch Pet Boutique and Chewbone Studio.

Cleveland’s Next Top Dog Models

Cross another one off the bucket list- Hunter has fulfilled his dream to be a professional dog model. (I don’t think it was a dream of Roscoe’s, but he was a good sport).

A couple weekends ago, Hunter and Roscoe got their shot to hit the big time as dog models. Late last year I signed them both up for Brittany Graham Photography’s dog model call. Brittany provides stock photos for the Darwin Dogs blog (a must read for every dog owner) so she put out a call for dog models on her website. Brittany needs dogs of all kinds – shy, hyper, old, young, big, small – for the blog as well as her own personal pet photo projects. I knew that with their opposite personalities, hyper Hunter and shy Roscoe would provide a wide range of different photos that she can hopefully use. And, of course, I couldn’t resist a chance to get  professional photos taken of them.

They were both total naturals and Brittany got some really great photos. I think Hunter knew exactly what was going on. Once I pulled out his toy, he started hamming it up, running around and giving her some great action shots. I love how Brittany was able to capture the personalities of both dogs and get such great photos of them just being themselves at home. (Brittany is also great with dogs, by the way, and her calm, positive demeanor put Roscoe, who is often  wary of new people, right at ease.)

Here are some of my favorite shots from the photo shoot.

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And my favorite:

roscoe and me


Hunter wanted me to add that he is available for photo shoots and special appearances and to contact his agent (which I’m guessing is me?) for bookings.

For more information on Brittany’s model call, visit:

All photos courtesy of Brittany Graham Photography. Please do not reuse images without approval.