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.



Take Your Dog to Work Day is June 22

When take your dog to work day rolls around every June, I am super jealous of anyone who works at a company that participates. I have never worked at a dog-friendly company, or even one that would participate in Take Your Dog to Work Day, and every day when I leave for work I wish I could take my dogs.

pets(Photo courtesy of Embrace Pet Insurance)

There are so many perks of having a dog in the office – stress relief, mid-day exercise, morale-building – so I can understand why more and more companies are offering the ability to bring dogs to work. Local Cleveland pet insurance provider, Embrace Pet Insurance recently did a survey which found that:

  • 50% of policyholders wished their workplace was pet-friendly
  • 30% of policyholders have pet-friendly employers
  • 70% of policyholders said, if interviewing for a new job, an employer with a pet-friendly workplace would be very appealing.

As more and more companies consider pet-friendly policies, Take Your Dog to Work Day is a great time for a workplace to try it out and see if it’s a good fit. Pet Sitters International, the founder of Take Your Dog to Work Day, has a free toolkit for any employers interested in planning a Take Your Dog to Work day, as well as some sample “dogs at work” policies, which can be found here:


To encourage more workplaces to take part in Take Your Dog to Work Day, Embrace Pet Insurance is giving away three prize packs to participating workplaces. The prize packs include a graphic tee, pet bandannas, tennis balls, pet treats and Pooch selfie smartphone attachments. Embrace will accepting entries here: until June 12.

Check out the June issue of CLE Dog Magazine for more tips from Embrace Pet Insurance on bringing your dog to work! And check out my Dog-Friendly Office Spotlight of Embrace from a few years ago to learn more about dog-friendly office culture:

And, if you are taking your dog to work on June 22, please tag me in any photos (@dogsinthecle on IG and Twitter). I’d love to see pups at work!



The Horrible 100 for 2018

New year, new list. I share this list every year and will continue to do so until we have no longer have this problem. Each year the U.S. Humane Society releases its Horrible 100 list of the worst offenders in the commercial dog breeding industry. And each year Ohio maintains its place as second worst state for breeders on this list.

The breeders on this list are the worst of the worst, like Canton, Ohio’s very own Susan Fitzgerald, a repeat offender on the list who admits to neutering puppies on her own without anesthesia. Or John J. Nisley of Loundonville, Ohio who was found guilty of selling underage and sick and injured puppies and has been known to sell over 250 puppies a year. You can read more about the Ohio breeders on this list here:

puppy mill

Squirrel is a puppy The HSUS purchased as part of an investigation into an unlicensed Ohio breeder. Susan Fitzgerald’s state commercial breeder license was revoked in 2016 for a host of severe animal care violations. Her name appeared in our 2016 and 2018 Horrible Hundred reports. Fitzgerald was even accused of neutering puppies herself without anesthesia. Yet more than two years later, Fitzgerald is still breeding puppies and selling them online and via her pet store, Whiskers, Wings and Wild Things in Canton, Ohio.
The HSUS had a veterinarian examine Squirrel and she found he had at least two conditions which will likely require surgery: an undescended testicle and a luxating patella (bad knee). These conditions could cost thousands of dollars to remedy.

Ohio has 13 puppy mills on the list, the second highest total after Missouri at 23. Although not much has changed with the breeders on this list unfortunately, one significant change this year is that many of the breeders on this list are now unidentified. Early last year the USDA removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.

Without this information, the US Humane Society can’t evaluate whether USDA is having an impact with its inspections and fines of those in violation of animal welfare laws. Additionally, the general public can’t research to find out if a certain breeder has been found to have violations against them. This was a definite setback in the fight against puppy mills and something that Congress or a new administration will hopefully be able to address at some point soon.

The sad fact is that one-third of the offenders on this list are repeat offenders. The US Humane Society also said in a blog post that the USDA has not revoked a single pet breeder license since the publication of the Horrible 100 list last year. In 2016 the USDA revoked at least nine puppy mill licenses for chronic noncompliance.

puppy mill dog

Jason and Ashlae Simmons of Simmons Farms in Lebanon, MO were repeatedly found with sick or injured dogs and could not prove they had received veterinary care for their issues. Despite being warned about this problem in August 2017, when inspectors returned in October, a black and white schnauzer was found with discharge in both eyes. Yet again, the licensee was unable to provide documentation regarding the eye issue or prove that they had consulted with their attending veterinarian (MO Dept of Ag/2017).
MO Dept of Ag

Many of these breeders are able to continue in business because many states, including Ohio, do not have strong enough laws on the books to shut these places down. Please check out this month’s issue of CLE Dog Magazine or read this blog to find out more about what we are trying to do in Ohio to regulate breeders better and impose harsher penalties for violations.

It can seem very discouraging to read this list year after year and feel like little has changed to make it better. There is something easy that we can all do though.  Never support a store that sells puppies and spread that word that buying a dog from a pet store or online is supporting the continued suffering of dogs at puppy mills across the country. If we cut into the profits for this industry, we can have an impact on puppy mills for good. That’s what keeps me posting this list every year, to inform just one more person that they should never buy a dog from a pet store or online.

And funny enough, while I was working on this article I got an email from Channel 19 to do an interview on the puppy mill ballot initiative and why I got involved. Here’s the clip:


2018 Dog-friendly 5Ks, races and walks!

It doesn’t seem like spring is coming anytime soon, but eventually it will be here (or more likely we will go straight to 90 degrees). Once the warmer temperatures hit, many of us turn our attention to getting more active with our dogs, maybe even running with them. Luckily, the Cleveland-area has several dog-friendly 5ks starting this month and going through the summer for you to get out and get fit with your dog!

And, for those dog-and-running enthusiasts that want to keep up with dog-friendly running options all year round and in other cities/states, check out this new site:

Created by a health researcher, Bethany Lavins-Merillat, the site allows you to search by your city to find dog-friendly races near you.

Here are a sampling of some upcoming dog-friendly races, or walks, to check out. Just a note, many of the races sponsored by Hermes Cleveland are dog-friendly, the ones listed below are either fundraisers for rescue groups or shared here because the organizers reached out to me to let me know it’s dog-friendly. It’s always a good idea to check with race organizers for other races if you are unsure if dogs will be welcome.

April 7
Siberian Husky I Did-A-Run 

Sponsored by the Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland, this 5K run and 1 mile walk will be held at Edgewater Park in the Upper Pavilion. Registration starts at 8am. You can pre-register here:

April 29
Love a Stray

This annual 5K raises money for Love-a-Stray animal rescue in Avon and will be held at Avon Lake High School. Registration/package pick up begins at 7:30 am. You can pre-register here: 


May 5
Run Puritas 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run

The 6th annual Run Puritas race will be held at Christ Lutheran Church. Dogs are allowed, even though it’s not a dog fundraiser. You can pre-register here:

2018 Walk to Cure Arthritis 

Also on May 5th, this one is actually a walk, and is held at the Great Lakes Science Center, to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation. Find out more here:

May 12
New Leash on Life Woof Walk

This one is also a walk and it raises funds for the Northeast Ohio SPCA. It will be held at Edgewater Park and will also feature refreshments, a DJ, photo booth, face painting, contests, and more. Find out more and register here:

Ohio Guidestone Promise Run

Also on May 12, Ohio Guidestone invites dogs and their owners to take part in a  5K , 10K or 1 mile walk to raise funds for their organization. The race takes place at Wallace Lake in Berea. Find out more here:

May 26
4 Miles 4 Water

This race/walk will take place at Jacobs Pavilion at the Nautica Entertainment Complex and raises funds for the Cleveland-based Wavemaker Program in schools, to help them host beach cleanup events and build safe water projects. Find out more here:

July 21
Dirty Dog 5K 

This run will be held at Avon Lake United Church of Christ and features a dog wash at the end. Find out more here:


From the Life To-Do List: Therapy Dog Training

Do you have a life to-do list (I don’t like the term bucket list, too depressing) for your dog? I have one for Hunter and Roscoe, although most of the items on the list are things that only Hunter will do since as a shy, fearful dog, I know Roscoe would not be comfortable doing some of these things. Hunter has always been an exceptionally friendly and easy-going dog, so I pretty much know he is down for any activity.


As you can see, we’ve completed quite a few of the things on our list, but we still have more to do (follow us on IG @dogsinthecle!) Last week we took a step towards completing item #7 on the list – Therapy Dog training! Hunter went to his first session this past week at Fortunate Fido to find out if he has what it takes to become a therapy dog and I am excited to learn more about it.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Just in case there is any confusion, since people have asked me when I’ve brought it up, a therapy dog is not a service dog. A therapy dog’s role is provide affection and comfort to various members of the public. Unlike service dogs which typically work with one individual who needs emotional and/or health-related assistance, service dogs don’t get any special access places (unless they are working there). Therapy dogs can work in many different places, such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and libraries. In recent years therapy dogs have been used in crisis situations (visiting schools after mass shootings, for example) and even in airports as a way to relieve the stress of traveling.

Therapy dogs visiting Parkland after students went back to class. Photo courtesy of Reddit.
Therapy dogs visiting Parkland after students went back to class. Photo courtesy of Reddit.

As someone who works a standard 8-5 Monday through Friday work schedule, I was concerned that would be less opportunities for people who can only volunteer on weekends. The instructor assured me that many organizations need therapy dogs on Saturdays and Sundays and many nursing homes are flexible about when you can visit once you establish a relationship with them.

How does my dog become a therapy dog?

In order to become a therapy dog and work in various locations, you must register your dog with one of the national Therapy Dog organizations. Alliance of Therapy Dogs, PetPartners, Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dog International, are just a few of the therapy dog organizations you can register your dog with so that he or she will be accepted into various programs at schools or other institutions. There are fees involved, since part of the reason you join one of these organizations is to get liability coverage in case something happens when your dog is at an assignment.

If you are interested in getting your dog registered with one of these places you will want to look into training for your dog since there is a handling test required for each organization. A few local Cleveland trainers do therapy dog training, including Fortunate Fido, Alpha Dog Pet Center, Total Canine and The Dog Class. Classes are often not regularly offered, so it’s a good idea to reach out a trainer near you to see if it’s something they are offering currently or could offer in the future.

The training will vary depending on which organization you plan to get certified with, some may require Canine Good Citizen certificate first, while others may not. The Fortunate Fido training is connected with Alliance of Therapy Dogs and does not require CGC certification first.

I am still learning more about registering with this organization and what training is involved, so I will share more details as I learn them. I am going into it more as a learning experience and deciding whether this is something that would be a good fit for Hunter, and for myself, since it will require a lot of time from me. But as a true believer in the power of dogs to reduce stress and improve your overall state of mind, I am really excited about the opportunity to spread joy though Hunter’s undying love of people!



2018 Edition – 50 Things To Do With Your Dog in NE Ohio

2018 marks the fifth year of this list! Woohoo! Even though it’s always a monster to complete, I have so much fun compiling the list every year. I love to see all the new events and dog-friendly places that are added, as well as the events that the dog community continues to support each year. Since I started this blog in 2013, Cleveland’s dog-friendly community has grown so much. I think we are well on our way to becoming one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country!

So, once again, whether you have an active dog, a lazy dog or a somewhere-in-between dog, there’s something on this list he or she will enjoy. Check it out:


collage 1

Participate in the puppy bowl – Cleveland will have its very own first-ever puppy bowl, thanks to newish dog-friendly brewery Terrestrial Brewing Company. On Feb. 4 from 1-5 stop by for a football themed doggy-costume contest, a Limited Edition Terrestrial dog collar and $1 off full house beers for all dog bowl club members (they have a dog bowl club, how cool is that?). Find out more here:

Attend a winter yappy hour –
A winter happy hour you can take your dog to! It’s a miracle. This shows me how truly dog-friendly Cleveland is becoming. This Saturday, Jan. 20, visit Bottlehouse Brewery for a yappy hour to benefit Rescue Me Ohio. You must get tickets in advance, find out more here:

Another BarkHappy yappy hour will be held Feb. 24 at Terrestrial Brewing Co. Find out more here:

Schedule a photo session for your pet – You can’t consider yourself a true dog lover until you have professional photos taken of your dog! Trust me, it’s worth it. On February 3, Chewbone Studio will have “Sweetheart” mini sessions just in time to have your dog’s photo taken for Valentine’s Day. Find out more here:

One of my favorite professional photos, credit: Brittany Graham Photography
One of my favorite professional photos, credit: Brittany Graham Photograph


See the Easter Bunny– Throughout March there will be a lot of opportunities to get your dog’s photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Just a few events already announced: on March 3, Mutts in a Rut will be hosting photos with the Easter Bunny at the Bark Club ( and Alpha Dog Pet Center will be hosting the Easter Bunny for photos on March 18 ( ).

Go to a hockey game with your dog – This season’s dog-friendly Pucks and Paws game will take place on Sunday, April 8th at 3:00pm at Quicken Loans Arena as the Monsters take on the San Antonio Rampage. Proceeds go to the Cleveland APL. Find out more info here:

Run a 5K with your dog – Many races organized by Hermes Cleveland are dog friendly, including the Siberian Husky 5k/1 Mile “Idid-a-Run” sponsored by the Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland on April 7 and the Love-A-Stray Fur Fun 5K on April 29. Check out their website for more info on races:

Go see waterfalls with your dog – Chagrin Falls is one of the most dog friendly places in the Northern Ohio area. If you haven’t taken your dog there for some shopping and waterfalls viewing, you (and your dog) are missing out! Spring is a great time to visit.

Visit a botanical garden – There really aren’t that many botanical gardens that allow dogs, so we should be very appreciative that we have the Holden Arboretum. This is a beautiful place to take a walk with your dog when spring is in bloom.

Teach your dog to use his nose – The only training class I would take my shy dog Roscoe to is a nose work class.  Nose work is a great activity for fearful or aggressive dogs, since although it’s often done as a group class, dogs do the work on their own so they don’t have to interact with other people or dogs. Fortunate Fido has a class starting in February. Find out more here:
You can read about Roscoe and I’s experience with nose work here:


year in review


Take your dog to a baseball game –Even though it seems that Puppypalooza at Progressive Field is gone for good, you can still catch a minor league game with your dog. The Lake Erie Captains have already announced a couple of dates – April 21 is the first game. Akron Rubber Ducks and Lake Erie Crushers have also hosted dog-friendly game nights. Stay tuned for more details as they are announced.

Visit a vineyard with your dog –I look forward to the summer for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I can drink wine outside with my dogs! We are so lucky that several area wineries host yappy hours during the summer including Debonne Cellars, The Winery at Wolf Creek and Thorncreek Winery. Check out one of my favorite events Woof, Wag and Wine, Lake Humane’s annual dog-friendly winery event on June 16th this year.

Go to the ultimate dog park – If you haven’t visited Bow Wow Beach in Stow yet, this is a must do for any Northern Ohio dog lover. This huge park has a lake right in the middle and significant space for your dog to run around. There is a small dog area as well.

Enter your dog in a frisbee competition – As part of Lake Farm Park’s Working Dog weekend June 8-10, your dog can participate in the area’s biggest frisbee competition. There will be six major events that weekend, find out more here:

Go to an old dog party –Just because your dog is old, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to party! The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs holds their annual “Summer Scoop” also known as the “Old Dog Party” every summer offering activities for senior dogs, including the Old Dog Olympics, an agility course for older dogs. This year’s date is TBA (it’s usually held in August).

Visit a dog park – No matter where you live in Cleveland, a dog park should be nearby. The Downtown Dog Park, Canine Meadows Dog Park and Carolyn Ludgate in Medina are a few of the newer dog parks opened in the last couple of years. Most dogs enjoy a chance to run around with other dogs, so it’s a great way to have your dog burn off some energy. See my list of dog parks here:

Take your dog swimming – If your dog likes to swim, keep your eye out for local dog swim events that occur near the end of summer. Lakewood Dog Park’s annual dog swim and Dog Paddle and Pet-a-Palooza are two fun events held every year. Also, Paws by the Lake, a doggie daycare facility in Avon, also offers pool passes for guests to come and take advantage of their lazy river. Contact them at (440) 933-5297 for more details.

Take your dog to brunch – A great spot to hit during the summer for brunch is Luxe in the Detroit Shoreway. They host a Bow Wow Brunch on Sundays in the summer, choosing a Dog of the Week each week to feature on their Facebook page. Other good brunch choices are Rocky River Wine Bar, Nighttown in Cleveland Heights and Lucky’s in Tremont.

Have a drink on a patio with your dog – The list of dog-friendly patios is increasing every year. If you haven’t checked out my list lately, view it here: Where to Go page. My favorites are Nanobrew, Platform and Barrio in Tremont (the Lakewood location is not dog friendly) and Sibling Revelry. Tip – please call ahead and verify you can bring your dog. Policies are always changing.

Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Facebook page

Go to a dog fashion show – The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter hosts is annual Pawject Runway dog fashion show every summer where you can enter your dog to be a part of the show and dress him or her up in a costume or bathing suit. It’s usually held in August. Terrestrial Brewing Co. also hosted a dog show event last year, so stay tuned to see if they do one this year.

Take your dog to the beach – Hunter, Roscoe and I are big fans of the lake. You can bring your dog along for a swim or to lay in the sand at Edgewater and Fairport Harbor beaches. A few other areas allow dogs as well, but are more under the radar (like Rocky River Park). Edgewater and Fairport have designated beach areas for dogs, so you always know it’s ok to take your dog there.

Take your dog shopping – I am always hesitant to name stores that allow your dog since that can change based on management and staff at each location. I do know that several stores at Crocker Park and Legacy Village including Apple and Barnes and Noble, and many shops on Main St. in Chagrin Falls, are dog friendly. Always ask before bringing your dog inside.

Get ice cream with your dog – Last summer Graeters at Crocker Park hosted a dog night on the first Thursday of every month (date may change this year) with special treats for dogs. Other good spots to have ice cream with your dog are any Mitchell’s location with outdoor seating and Mason’s Creamery in Ohio City (which often lets dogs inside, just ask first!). Mason’s Creamery loves dogs so much they even have an Instagram account – @PuppiesofMasonsCreamery to highlight dogs that visit. Your dog might get famous on your visit!

Put those jumping skills to use – Buckeye Dock Dogs offers dock diving classes for active dogs who love the water. Check them out at: You can usually find them at events throughout the summer.

Take your dog to a farmer’s market or Flea Market  – During the summer we like to check out the farmer’s market near us, Frostville Farmer’s Market, which allows dogs. The Tremont and Gordon Square Farmer’s Markets are also dog friendly. Dogs are also allowed at the Cleveland Flea to accompany while you shop local vendors and eat local food. Check out @dogsoftheflea on Instagram to see pups enjoying the Flea Market.

Go Paddleboading and/or boating with your dog – Everyone should try paddleboarding or boating with their dog at least once. Here in the Cleveland area you can take your dog to Hinckley Reservation, where dogs are allowed on row boats. Portage Lakes near Akron is another good spot for water activities with your dog. You could also borrow a paddleboard and take your dog paddleboarding pretty much anywhere. Read about our paddleboarding adventure here: 

The last two summers Lake Metroparks hosted a few canoe/paddleboard with your dog nights at Fairport Harbor. Hopefully the event will be brought back again this summer!



Go to a summer festival with your dog – Clifton Arts Festival, The Taste of Tremont and The Warehouse District Festival are common dog-friendly festivals. If you have a calm dog that is good with crowds, this is a fun summer activity.

Do Yoga with your dog – Exercising is so much better when you can bring your dog! At Your Yoga in Hinckley you can do “Doga,” ie: Yoga with your dog. Check out their site for upcoming dates and time: Last summer there were also several different dog-friendly yoga events throughout Cleveland during the summer. Stay tuned for dates!

Get a cup of coffee with your dog – Lucky’s, Civilization, (both in Tremont), and Rising Star Coffee and Gypsy Bean are all good dog friendly spots for coffee lovers. So bring your dog along next time you want to sit outside with a cup of coffee.

Go camping with your dog – Many area campgrounds are pet friendly including Country Acres Campground in Ravenna. Bring your dog along on your family’s next camping trip.

Go to a drive- in movie – Aut-o-Rama Drive In in North Ridgeville hosted a few pet nights last year to raise money for local rescue groups. The drive-in is always dog-friendly though if you have a quiet, laid back dog who wants to go sit and watch a movie outside with you.




Fundraise for a local rescue group –There are a lot of fun events in the fall hosted by rescue groups to help them raise money for the dogs in their care. Woofstock, Rescue Village’s annual fundraiser held in September, is a fun event held every fall which includes a dog walk and fun activities and vendors for dogs. Date TBA.

Join a pack with your dog – Cleveland Metroparks hosts a number of dog-friendly walks every year as a great way to get out and explore a park you might not regularly visit. Visit the Cleveland Metroparks website to find out dates. There are also many local hiking groups to get your dog out and enjoying the company of other dogs. Elite K911, The Doggie Inn and NEO Dobes all host pack walks throughout the year. Check them out on Facebook to find out dates and locations.

Go to boot camp with your dog – One of our favorite Northern Ohio dog-friendly activities is Thank Dog NEO Bootcamp, and I don’t even like to work out! Working out is just so much more fun when you can do it with your dog. The bootcamp goes all year round (moving indoors during the winter), and now there is also a boot camp on the far west side in Amherst, Thank Dog Fit. Find out more here: Read about Hunter and I’s first experience with it here: /

Dress your dog up and go to a Halloween party –Monster Mutt Dash, hosted by Berea Animal Rescue Fund, is a fun annual Halloween event to check out. You can dress your dog up in a Halloween costume and run a 5K or participate in a 1-mile walk. Monster Mutt Dash also includes a Halloween after party with vendors and activities for dogs.

Hike in a National Park – We are so lucky to have the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in our backyard. Believe or not, a lot of national parks aren’t dog friendly (crazy, I know). And fall is definitely the best time of year to visit. Hunter, Roscoe and I love exploring the area around Peninsula and enjoy checking out the waterfalls at Blue Hen and Buttermilk Falls.

Dress up your dog and join a parade –One of the best Halloween events every year is the Spooky Pooch Parade in Lakewood. Held in early October, it’s a must do event for anyone who likes to see dogs dressed up in costume strutting their stuff through the streets of Lakewood. Date TBA.



Go see Santa Paws! Don’t miss your chance at the end of November and early December to get your dog’s photo taken with Santa. I try to compile a list every year, so stay tuned! Here’s my favorite picture of Hunter and Roscoe with Santa Paws:

Go to a brewery with your dog –  With the influx of new dog-friendly bars, there’s so many more indoor spots you can take your dog in the winter. Two of my favorites are Sibling Revelry Brewery in Westlake and Terrestrial Brewing in the Edgewater area. Dogs are always welcome at both places, so either is a great place to visit during the winter months when your dog is tired of being trapped inside.

Put your dog through an obstacle course– If you have an active, energetic dog, you may want to check out Agility. Canine University of Ohio and Cleveland All Breed Training Club are two area training facilities that offer classes. Find out more here:

Go to church with your dog – So now there’s really no excuse not to go to church! Good Soil Lutheran Ministries in Lakewood allows dogs on the first Sunday of every month at 2pm for its Pets are Welcome Service (PAWS). Although the church is Lutheran, all faiths are welcome. Visit them online at 

Join an indoor playgroup – PetPeople hosts playgroups for small and large dogs at different area stores. Check out their calendar for dates: I only see a large dog playgroup coming up in Hudson, but check back for more dates. Also, Grateful Dog Bakery hosts a small dog play group at their North Ridgeville store.

Visit a nature center with your dog- Most Cleveland Metroparks that have nature centers allow dogs inside. Hunter and I like to make a stop at the Rocky River Reservation Nature Center on really cold days to get out from the cold for a little bit. Brecksville Nature Center also allows dogs inside to check out their nature center.

Teach your dog a new trick– Dogs get bored in the winter. Especially when we have a month of days with below freezing temperatures. Getting your dog out to learn some new tricks is a great winter time activity. Fortunate Fido, Canine Affair and North Coast Dogs offer a variety of classes to work on everything from puppy socialization and behavior issues, to new tricks.

Go to an art gallery with your dog – Did you know the 78th Street Studios are dog-friendly? You can bring your dog along while you visit the studios on the third Friday of every month when they open up the studio for an art walk with gallery exhibits and shopping. Find out more here:

Go swimming at an indoor pool – At the Barkley Pet Hotel you can reserve time in their pool to take your dog swimming. Another option for those who are further south is Healing Waters Canine Experience, which does water therapy for dogs but you can also schedule time to just have your dog swim in their indoor pool. Find out more at

Certify your dog as a good canine citizen – I was so proud of Hunter when he got his CGC certificate through Fortunate Fido in Columbia Station. It’s a great course to take to teach your dog manners if you like to take him to dog-friendly patio visits, or if you want to find out if your dog has what it takes to be a therapy dog. Most area training places offer classes to earn the certification.

Please note that some cities have Breed Specific Legislation in place. As ill conceived as this law is, I would advise you not to bring a Pitbull into a city with this ban in place. Lakewood (being lifted soon), Warrensville Heights, Parma and Brook Park all currently have BSL laws in place.

Santa Paws is Coming to Town (2017 dates)

It’s here! Your official list of Santa Paws events throughout the NE Ohio area! I tried to get this out sooner but Christmas comes faster each year it seems. There will be plenty of opportunities this December to get your dog’s photo taken with Santa, so don’t miss out!

If I’ve missed any, let me know in the comments and I will add. You can also visit the calendar for more December event info:

Nov. 18 – Dec. 24

Santa Photos at Crocker Park

LOCATION: Crocker Park Boulevard, Crocker Park Blvd, Westlake (Lake Ridge Academy Santa House)
TIME: Varies, find out more info here:

Nov. 28

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

LOCATION: Grooming by Jenny, 7085 Brecksville Rd., Independence
IME: 5- 8pm

Nov. 30, 2017

Santa Photos at Style Mutt

LOCATION: Style Mutt Dog Boutique, Grooming & Daycare, 3525 Warren Rd.
To Make A Reservation:
TIME: 6pm-9pm

Dec. 2, 2017

Pictures with Santa at the Bark Club

LOCATION: The Bark Club, 33549 Liberty Pkwy, North Ridgeville
TIME: 11am-4:30pm

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 11am-3pm


Santa Paws at Ganley

LOCATION: Ganley Subaru 28840 Euclid Ave, Wickliffe
TIME: 12-4:30 pm

Pictures with Santa at Camp Bow Wow

LOCATION: Camp Bow Wow, 14411 Foltz Pkwy, Strongsville
TIME: 12-3pm

Family and Pet Pictures with Santa

LOCATION: The Natural Pet Enrichment Center, 6720 Royalton Rd, North Royalton
TIME: 11am-4:00pm

Dec. 3, 2017

Paws with Claus Pet Photos

LOCATION: Great Northern Mall,  4954 Great Northern Mall, North Olmsted (Enter through the Great Northern Mall Entrance between Dicks Sporting Goods and H&M)
TIME: 6-8 p.m.

Pictures with Santa at the Bark Club

LOCATION: The Bark Club, 33549 Liberty Pkwy, North Ridgeville, OH 44039
TIME: 11am-4:30pm

Free Photos with Santa at Graf’s Garden Center

LOCATION: Graf’s Garden Shop, Landscape & Farm Market, 1015 White Pond Dr.
TIME: 11am-3pm

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 11am-3 pm

Pet Photos with Santa & Christmas Extravaganza

LOCATION: Paws By the Lake Pet Resort, 33757 Lake Rd, Avon Lake
TIME: 12-4:30pm

Santa Paws at Ganley

LOCATION: Ganley Subaru 28840 Euclid Ave, Wickliffe, OH 44092
2 – 4:30 pm

Santa Paws at Pet’s General Store

LOCATION: Pet’s General Store, 16821 Madison Ave, Lakewood
TIME: 1pm-4pm

Picture Your Dog with Santa

LOCATION: Cold Nose Companions Dog Training 12531 GAR Highway (Route 6), Chardon 44024
TIME: 2 pm – 6pm

Dec. 9, 2017

Family and Pet Pictures with Santa

LOCATION: The Natural Pet Enrichment Center, 6720 Royalton Rd, North Royalton
TIME: 11am-4:00pm


Dec. 10, 2017

Pet Photo Night

LOCATION: Great Lakes Mall, Mentor (Dillard’s concourse. Please use the mall entrance next to Tony Sacco’s.)
TIME: 6:30pm-8pm

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 11am-3pm

Pet Photos with Santa

LOCATION: Lowe’s Greenhouses, Florist & Gift Shop 16540 Chillicothe Rd, Chagrin Falls
TIME: 1pm-3pm

Dec. 12, 2017

Pet Photos with Santa

LOCATION: Windsor Park Estates, 1335 Vale Dr, Akron
TIME: 4pm-6:30pm

Dec. 15, 2017

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 5:30pm-7:30pm

Dec. 16, 2017 

Pet Photos with Santa

LOCATION: Northern View Villa Apartments 4877 Columbia Rd., North Olmsted
TIME: 10am-1:30pm

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 11am-3pm

Dec. 17, 2017

Photos with Santa Paws to benefit the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter

LOCATION: Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, 9500 Sweet Valley Dr, Valley View
TIME: 11am-3pm

Thanks for gathering these dates Catherine Krzywicki!

My favorite Santa Paws Picture:


The Official 2017 Dog Lover’s Gift Guide

As a kid I loved to make Christmas lists. As an adult, for some reason, this is not as encouraged.  I do, however, still get to partake in my love of Christmas lists by creating one for my dogs every year. There are so many cool dog things and Christmas is a great time to go all out spoiling your dog. Who cares if they don’t know it’s Christmas? They will look so cute in their new sweater, or love playing with their new toy!

So without further ado, here is my roundup of the best gifts for your dog and the best gifts for the dog lover in your life (or yourself, I don’t judge).

Gifts for your dog
1 (3)1. Dog Pajamas

I am not ashamed to admit that quite a few people tagged me in a post about these dog pajamas on Facebook. I have been wanting to Roscoe a pair of pajamas for years, so maybe it’s time to go all out and get us all a matching pair.

2. Barker bag

This sleeping bag is for the dog lover who loves to take their dog camping with them. This looks so cozy and convenient I may just take up camping so I can get one. What dog wouldn’t love to be snuggled up with his pawrents under the stars?

3. Luxury dog bed

If your dogs are anything like mine, they love the luxurious life. From the bed to the couch is how they travel. This dog bed looks like just what they need to finally get them to stop hogging my bed every night. Maybe. Or, just give them another option for their second afternoon nap.

4. Enrichment feeders

Hunter has used enrichment feeders for all of his meals for years and just in the last few months I’ve finally gotten Roscoe to use an Omega ball! Enrichment feeders are a great way to give your dog some activity while they eat. Our favorites are the Omega ball and the Busy Buddy twist and feed, but I am thinking of gifting them both with the Odin this year.  Looks a little more advanced than their current toys.

5. Warning dog leashes

These dog leashes are such a great idea if you have a dog that doesn’t do well being approached by other dogs or people. I’ve heard about using a yellow leash to indicate you have a dog that shouldn’t be approached, but since most people aren’t in the know about what certain colors mean, these leashes that explicitly say “friendly” or “nervous” or “no dogs” are such a great idea. This is one gift that your shy or dog reactive dog will definitely appreciate!

6. Friendship Collar

As you did with your childhood bestie, there’s no better way to celebrate your friendship then with matching accessories! For your current best friend (your dog), the friendship necklace has been replaced with a friendship collar. With the friendship collar, you get a matching bracelet for yourself to match your dog’s collar.

Gifts for the dog lover in your life


1.Car seat covers from 4Knines

I was recently sent this car seat cover* from 4Knines and I really love it. I’ve used other covers before that never stay in place (especially when you have a dog that likes to dig and tries to move anything that covers a seat), which is frustrating when you’re trying to protect your car from muddy paws or excessive fur. This seat cover actually stays in place and is large enough that is protects your whole back seat area, even the floor.

2. Pet Cube

I have been going back and forth about whether I really want a camera to watch my dogs. Although it is a nice idea to be able to check in on your dog while you’re away, I am always worried it will just make me sad as I see them moping around and sleeping (or barking) all day. However, I have decided that a Pet Cube is a great gift for the worry-prone dog lover (me), as it’s a great way to check in with your dog throughout the day to make sure everything is ok at home. You can also interact with them through the camera and get notifications about activity in the house through the app.

3. Personalized dog mug 

Someone posted this mug in a dog group I follow and thought it was so cute. Who wouldn’t want a reminder of their dog every day with their morning coffee at work?

4. Paw print necklace

Rather than just a generic paw print, you can get a personalized necklace with your dog’s own paw print. Such a sweet idea to always carry a piece of your dog with you.

5. Custom wine glass

Dogs and wine are my two favorite things in the world, so of course I would love a wine glass you could customize with your dog’s photo!

6. Dog travel shower

This seems like such a great idea. I often leave towels in my car, but there’s no great way to clean off a muddy dog’s paw. This travel shower seems like a really convenient way to quickly rinse off your dog’s paws before going in the car. If you really plan ahead you could add some dog shampoo and give them a more thorough cleaning on the go. This is a great gift for the active dog owner!

What are you buying your dog this year?

*I received the dog seat covers for free from 4Knines but the opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. 

Let’s Stop Puppy Mills! Step One…

If you read this blog regularly, you already know that ending the suffering of dogs in puppy mills is an important cause for me. I’ve seen the dogs that come from these mills and have heard countless horror stories from people who’ve purchased puppy mills dogs from pet stores. It is heartbreaking. There is absolutely no reason in 2017 that dogs should be bred solely for profit by people who don’t care at all about their health and safety.

And considering that Ohio has one of the largest number of puppy mills in the country, this an issue we cannot ignore in our state. A group called Stop Puppy Mills Ohio recently formed to crack down on puppy mills in our state and is looking for volunteers to help with the cause. This grassroots organization is working on bringing a ballot measure that would regulate breeders as well as pet stores who buy from breeders to Ohio voters next November.


A little background…

Although the state passed a law in 2012 to regulate breeders, the enforcement of it has been very tough. That law requires an annual inspection of high volume breeders that sell 60 dogs and produce at least 9 litters in a single year. This 9/60 rule is very hard to enforce as many breeders can get around it by saying that they only breed 59 dogs in a year, or eight litters, to get out of being required to do an inspection. There are hundreds of facilities not being inspected because they can’t get to them based on these rules. Also although the law requires veterinary care, it doesn’t have any requirements about the number of times a dog can breed or much as far as the conditions the dogs should be living in.


The new measure

This new ballot measure puts tough requirements on breeding facilities as well as regulates the sale of dogs in the state to pet stores. Here are some of the details:

  • Establishes welfare standards for any breeder with eight or more breeding females. This threshold will be far easier for the Ohio Department of Agriculture to enforce, and will require many more puppy mills to be regulated.
  • Requires breeders to provide the animals with constant access to water, access to nutritious food at least twice daily, protections from extreme temperatures, and regular veterinary care and socialization.
  • Dogs have to have unfettered daytime access to outdoor exercise areas. Enclosures would have solid flooring (no wire flooring their paws can get stuck in), would be cleaned at least once per day. Cages also cannot be stacked or have multiple dogs crammed together in one cage.
  • Safe breeding practices, including limits on how often and how many times a dog may be bred, and genetic screening
  • Pet stores purchasing dogs would have to get their dogs from facilities that are in accordance with Ohio law and cannot purchase dogs from out-of-state facilities that do not meet the Ohio law requirements.

The requirements in this measure are important because they regulate both sides of the industry. It’s not just the commercial breeders that don’t care about the dogs they breed, it’s also the pet stores. Take a look at this paperwork that came along with Hunter (my dog whose original owner purchased him from a pet store) when I adopted him:


Yes, it actually says a “replacement puppy.” I cried the first time I read that. The people at these stores see dogs as something to be bought and sold, nothing more.

Ultimately, the goal is to make it so hard for puppy mills to operate that many will go out of business. This is an important step to ensuring that we stop the reckless breeding of dogs at these facilities and I can’t wait to take this to Ohio voters next November!

If you’re interested in volunteering to help collect signatures, or just interested in helping spread awareness, you can sign up as a volunteer here: They need people to gather signatures, write letters to the editor, make phone calls, volunteer at poll places, and more.

I am hoping to collect signatures are Spooky Pooch in Lakewood this Saturday, so let me know if you want to help, or just stop by and sign if you are there!

CLE Dog-Friendly Halloween Parties

For those of us who loves dogs in costumes (and really, who doesn’t?), Halloween is one of the best times of year. There will be so many chances this October to dress up your dog and go to a dog-friendly party. From parades and 5Ks to costume contests at breweries, it’s going to be a busy month for Cleveland dogs.

Here are some of the parties to check out this month:

Oct. 7, 2017
3rd Annual Dogtoberfest

Stautzenberger College in Brecksville hosts its 3rd annual Dogtoberfest on Saturday. All proceeds will go toward benefiting a variety of local non-profit animal welfare and rescue partners. There will be a “Mutt Struttin’ Costume Contest” and an ice cream social. Find out more here:

Oct. 7, 2017
Bark Boo-Nanza

Bring your dog for dog-friendly trick-or-treating around Sunny Lake in Aurora. The first 125 dogs registered will recieve a Boo Treat Bag. There will also be rescues, vendors, prizes, raffle baskets and a 50/50 raffle. All breed are welcome! More info here:

Photo credit: Freedom Greyhound Rescue of Aurora
Photo credit: Freedom Greyhound Rescue of Aurora


4th Annual Howl-O-Ween Party
Oct. 8, 2017

Golden Retrievers in Need (G.R.I.N.) will be hosting a Chili Cook Off at the 4th Annual Howl-O-Ween Party on Oak Grove Pavilion. Bring a six quart or larger crock pot of your chili and you get into the event for free. There will be human and dog costume contests, doggie ice cream and bobbing for hot dogs, raffles and all the other fun events. Find out more here:

Photo courtesy of G.R.I.N.

Oct. 14, 2017
Monster Mutt Dash

Berea Animal Rescue’s annual 5K and dog walk is always a popular Halloween dog event. Dress up in costume and run or walk with your dog, and then enjoy the fun afterparty! Held at the Cuyahoga Country Fairgrounds, there will be vendors, food, entertainment, raffles, a “boo-tiful” Beer Garden, plus dog games and a costume parade and contest with prizes. Find out more here:

Halloween photos
Oct. 17, 2017


Oct. 21, 2017
Lakewood’ Spooky Pooch Parade

Join in the parade, or just observe from the sidelines, as dogs dressed in some of the best Halloween costumes you’ve ever seen walk down Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.  There will be awards given out in a variety of categories for the costumes. Find out more here:

Oct. 21
Howl-o-Ween 2017

Hosted by B.A.R.C Akron Dog Park, this annual “Howl-O-Ween” event will feature a costume contest for both dogs and humans, plus food, vendors, photos and raffles. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.More info here:

Oct. 21 and 22, 2017
Howl-o-Ween at PetPeople

Head to PetPeople in Strongsville on Oct. 21 or PetPeople in Chagrin on Oct. 22 for a fun doggie Halloween party. There will be including costumes, trick or treat bags and proceeds will benefit local rescues. Find out more here: and here:

16th Annual Boo Wow Walk
Oct. 2, 2017

The Ashtabula County APL will be hosting a Boo Wow Walk featuring an “enchanted” walk along the Maple Ridge Golf Course with 13 “frightful” stops for both you and your dog. Each stop includes a prize for your dog. After the walk, there will be food, costume contests with prizes and photos! Find out more here:

boo walk

Oct. 27, 2017
SRB Halloween Costume Party

The always dog-friendly brewery, Sibling Revelry will be hosting a Halloween party that includes a dog costume contest. There will be costume contests for humans as well, including the chance to win a best “couples” costume for dog/human combos. And, the Barrio food truck will be there! Find out more here:

Crocker Park’s Tricks and Treats
Oct. 28, 2017

Crocker Park’s annual event features Trick-or-Treating at stores around the shopping center as well as a Pet Costume Contest. (many Crocker Park stores are dog friendly!) There will also be vendors and exhibitors, food trucks, live music and entertainment. Find out more here:

Oct. 31, 2017
Barks and Brews Halloween Bash

This dog-friendly event will include live entertainment, food and drinks and a contest for best dressed dog. Winner will receive a $50 gift card to Petco. The Grateful Dog Bakery Inc. will be here with their homemade dog treats. Find out more here: