BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

For four years, Department of State (DOS) Agent Paddy worked as an Explosive Ordnance Division Technician at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Danny Scheurer and the rest of his unit went to clear a building, he leaped from an SUV and dashed to the door. “We tried to run,” Danny remembers. “But the guys in the back — because they didn’t have radio silence or a [military] dog—breached the building. It blew up.”

While serving their country, both Danny and Paddy were injured. Danny was given a 70 percent disability rating. “I received VA medical care, options for schooling, paid training for employment and multiple other perks for serving my country.” However, Paddy was labeled unsuitable for typical retirement. Because of former aggression, he was slated to be put down.

“How’s that for a soldier who serves?” Danny says. Dogs have been officially serving as four-legged soldiers in the U.S. military since World War I (1914-1918). Approximately 5,000 military working dogs (MWDs) served in the Vietnam War. They saved nearly 10,000 human lives. (The U.S. Army didn’t keep records before 1968). MWDs also took part in the takedown of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

There are around 2,500 MWDs in service today and 700 deployed overseas. “Imagine hearing both stories, while not aware that Paddy is a canine,” he says. “Most people’s reaction would be anger, concern or consternation regarding a veteran being denied retirement due to atypical retirement qualifications.”

That’s where Save-A-Vet in Lindenhurst, Ill., comes in. Danny started the nonprofit to rescue canines that aren’t adoptable because of their attack training, field experiences or physical and mental injuries—including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries that may cause dogs to barely blink or eat.

“Unlike a lot of agencies, the DOS truly cares about their K9s and reached out to Save-A-Vet asking us to take him [Paddy] into our program,” Danny says. “I’m very happy they did this as he’s now one of our most loveable K9s and the new mascot of the organization.”

The English Springer Spaniel loves all animals and people. He usually can be found claiming all of the office couches or stuffing tennis balls under their cushions. “He’s got about 150 balls everywhere. He constantly has one in his mouth,” Danny says.

“We don’t have a normal shelter because we don’t foster.” Instead, Save-A-Vet puts K9s in secured facilities throughout the country. It also hires disabled military or law enforcement officers to care for its dogs in exchange for rent-free housing. They’re randomly drug tested. “They must be able to pass a background check and either be employed or attending school full-time with a minimum of a B average,” Danny says. “It’s not a free handout. You wake up at 6 a.m. and take care of my dog. If it’s not being fed at 6 a.m., you’re fired.”

Save-A-Vet is a place of mutual healing between two-legged and four-legged veterans. Ornella, for example, was retired from Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) because she started eating her own tail. “When we fixed her, it was allergies. The veterinarian figured out that she probably had gotten into drugs.”

Her sharp nose served our country’s borders for two years. Her handler CBP Officer Shawn Johnson says, “She possesses those qualities and energies that make a successful drug detector dog a smuggler’s worst fear.” In 2014, she suffered a fatal heart attack. “The veterinarians tried CPR, but she wasn’t able to pull through,” Danny says. “Although Ornella has passed, we’re happy to have given her what I can only imagine have been the best two years of her life.”

Public donations and Made in America companies such as Basecamp and the Travel & Adventure Show power Save-A-Vet, which cost nearly $81,000 to run last year, even with seven unpaid, full-time staffers. “When we put out that we need volunteers, we typically have a couple hundred people show up,” Danny says. “We have volunteers all over the country.”

Save-A-Vet doesn’t take dogs from civilians or rehome their K9s. (Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, handles all MWDs adoptions.) “With Save-A-Vet’s leadership, military canines became veterans after decades of being categorized as equipment,” says Randi Scheurer who is Danny’s father and the nonprofit’s photographer.

Nero is a former Navy bomb dog. He had two discs in his back fused together and a golf ball-sized lump removed from his jaw, but he was never caged. Firemen, cops and construction workers would drop by his house every morning to bring him bacon. “He was Danny’s constant companion until the end,” Randi says. During Nero’s final days, Danny laid with him in the back of a van—wrapping his arms tightly around him, making another forgotten soldier’s “golden years” golden.

For more information, visit saveavet.org or call 815-349-9647.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Hayden, an 11-year-old Rat Terrier, doesn’t like loud noises. At the first rumble of thunder or pop of fireworks, she shakes so badly that everything around her vibrates. She also drools and leaves puddles wherever she’s hiding.

Before Anna Cabal adopted her from the Rat Terrier ResQ in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, she’d been seriously burned by her previous owner. She was septic and had little to no skin left on her back. “Then, last August, Hayden went to the vet for a teeth cleaning and had to have some mast cell tumors removed. The prolonged time in surgery on the heating pad caused secondary thermal burns, and her skin reopened,” she says. “I spent ten months with the vets using creams, ointments and dressings of all kinds, but a small, dime-sized opening still persisted.”

Nine months ago, Cabal found a way to close her dog’s wounds within three weeks and control her noise anxiety: cannabidiol (CBD)—a cannabinoid that can be extracted from cannabis—which includes hemp and marijuana.

What Type of Drug is CBD?
“CBD is considered a Schedule 1 drug, but it’s legal in all 50 states,” says Karen Eckert, the founder of My Organic Hound in Holmen, Wis. It’s thought to be able to prevent epileptic seizures, reduce chronic pain and ease separation anxiety, but unlike cannabis’ other main compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t get users high.

Marijuana and hemp are actually both varieties of the same plant species Cannabis sativa. “The analogy that I always give is that a Pit Bull and a Chihuahua are the same species of dog. But, of course, as you know, they look very different,” says Andy Gould, the co-owner of Wisconsin Hemp Scientific LLC in Sussex, Wis. “One is small and cuddly. The other is also cute but can be perceived as fierce-looking and bigger.”

“Marijuana produces a higher amount of THC and a lower amount of CBD,” Gould says, “and in hemp, you kind of see the reverse of that.” According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, hemp is only allowed to have a THC concentration of 0.3 percent in all parts of the plant when it’s been dried—or it’s considered marijuana.

Once hemp has been harvested though, it begins to break down. Sunlight can cause the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) in CBD oil to release carbon dioxide and become THC. High humidity can also make hemp flowers moldy or taste like ammonia while low humidity can cause them to crisp up and dry out. Refrigerating CBD oil can produce bacterial growth, so keep your pet’s CBD oil at room temperature. If it changes color, it’s probably damaged and should be tossed out.

What Type of CBD Should You Use?
“It’s very important to get your CBD oil from a trusted source,” says Dr. Megan Teiber of Indian Prairie Animal Hospital in Aurora, Illinois. “We can’t be sure that all products are pure and don’t contain more THC than claimed or other toxic ingredients like pesticides, fungicides or heavy metals.” If your cat or dog ingests secondhand smoke or marijuana edibles such as brownies or pot butter with other toxic ingredients involved such as chocolate, raisins or xylitol, it could result in severe cannabis intoxication or even death. Cats might also eat the marijuana plant. Symptoms of cannabis intoxication include severe agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, seizures and coma. They usually start within 30 to 60 minutes of oral ingestion but can last for up to 96 hours.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved CBD or issued a dosing chart, but recent studies suggest that it doesn’t pose a risk of addiction and generally causes few side effects. CBD may result in dry mouth, low blood pressure or slight drowsiness and may alter the metabolism of other drugs. Cats can also possibly accumulate hemp oil in their livers. “For cats, what I tell people is one drop a day. That shouldn’t harm them because over time it does stay in their systems,” Eckert says. “On the CBD dropper, there are measurements like a quarter or a half. Regardless of your dog’s weight, start with the smallest amount…a quarter, morning and night.” If you don’t see the results that you’re looking for, then you can slowly increase it, confirms Eckert.

“There’s a lag between when you take it and when it starts working: 30 minutes to 2 hours,” Gould says. When CBD oil is rubbed on your pet’s gums or given as a suppository, for instance, it reaches the brain pretty quickly. But when it’s added to water or baked into treats, it takes longer. Before it reaches your pet’s bloodstream, CBD gets metabolized in the liver, which inactivates some of it, meaning the amount that gets to the brain ends up being much smaller than the amount that’s ingested.

“Every pet’s body has a slightly different chemistry,” he says. “A lot of the CBD products that are marketed as pet products are not that different from human CBD products. The only difference is that sometimes there are certain ingredients that aren’t good for pets like peppermint, citrus or tea tree oils.”

Does It Really Work?
Crude CBD oil is roughly the color and consistency of maple syrup, but some pets hate how it tastes. “We have freeze-dried chicken treats, and I just take the dropper and saturate them with it,” says Debbie Mayer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When she brought home Kolby from JR’s Pups-N-Stuff in West Allis, Wisconsin, he couldn’t even get up. Mayer was told that Kolby wouldn’t live very long when she adopted him.

“We gave him some CBD oil. After two doses, he was able to get up.” Since then, two and a half years have passed. “He’s really an old man, but he can run again at full speed in the backyard,” she says. “CBD oil can be a little bit pricey depending on the dosage, strength and whether or not it’s organic,” she says. A one-ounce bottle can cost anywhere from $30 to more than $200, but “it’s worth it because it’s a life-changer for both people and animals.”

Janice Klein from Onalaska, Wisconsin adopted Ruby from a private home. After Klein broke her ankle, she couldn’t take the Maltese-Poodle mix on walks or to the bathroom. Ruby barely ate and would whine, pace and bark during thunderstorms. “Ruby was anxious and had a difficult time…in my home because of my ankle surgery and my husband’s death at the same time,” she says. “A year ago, I hired a dog walker and sitter for a period of time. Her name was Karen Eckert and, she was from K9 Pet Care LLC. She introduced me to the oils.” Klein started squirting a drop of CBD under Ruby’s tongue.

“She’s more energetic and a great companion. She acts more like a young dog instead of the 11-year-old that she really is,” she says. “When she meets new people, they think she’s just a young dog and not her senior age.”

Eckert suggests applying CBD oil to the base of your dog’s ears with a fast-acting gel pen. “It works in 10 or 15 minutes,” she says. “I use it with animals during thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides or something they’re not very happy with [like a trip to the vet]. It lasts up to 4 hours, and you can give it to your dog six times a day.”

By HOLLY KELSEY-HENRY, FREELANCER

Ask Rebekah Hintzman who’s leading the way for her new nonprofit, Pawsitism, and she’ll tell you that Isa the Goldendoodle and Finne the English Golden Retriever are “two smart puppies paving the way for an amazing organization.”

Located at 1229 Erie Avenue in Sheboygan, Wis., Pawsitism trains service dogs to become anchors and best friends to children with autism. After they complete the training, the dogs are placed, free of charge, with a family in need.

For families facing the challenges of autism, pets can play a significant role in their social lives. Research has found that dogs can act as a stimulus for social interaction. In fact, a University of Missouri study recently found that children with autism have much stronger social interaction skills when they live with any kind of pets at home for a prolonged period of time.

The dogs are trained to perform deep pressure therapy when a child becomes upset or panics by applying pressure to help calm them. They also learn deep gaze therapy where they look at the child directly to help bring their stress level down. Isa and Finne are hard at work perfecting their service skills in an 18-month-long training program. They will also be trained in search and rescue, in case a child becomes lost. Both are confident swimmers who can keep children safe in the water.

“The dogs also learn tether/anchor techniques where the child is actually tethered to the dog, and if the child wants to bolt, the dog anchors and freezes to not allow the child to move away,” Hintzman explains. “The dogs can also go down slides to make playgrounds more fun for the child and encourage them to engage with other children.”

The organization was founded in 2018 when Hintzman made the decision to follow her dream and create a non-profit to train service dogs for families facing the many challenges of autism.

“I found some people who were passionate about disabilities and helping the community, and a year later in January 2019, I, Tamara Pool and Deb Trcka formed a board, and it all officially started. Katie Shaw recently joined and has been helping with the organization as well,” she says.

The goal, according to Hintzman, is for the dogs to become the children’s best friend, anchor and safety net. The canines provide companionship, giving the child confidence that they are not alone. The dogs can also help them stay present and focused.

“For children who are not verbal, the dog is their voice,” she notes.

Pawsitism is funded through local donations, but the organization is also pursuing grants, sponsors and donors to help it grow. It is 100 percent volunteer-run.

“We are always looking for people who are interested in becoming puppy raisers to care for the dogs for 18 months while they train for their roles,” Hintzman says. “We also have puppy sitter opportunities along with service dog training opportunities.”

It takes a village to care for, feed and train the dogs. Area veterinarians, groomers, food suppliers and many other businesses support the organization with free care and nutrition for the dogs. Meanwhile, future goals include outings on planes, trains and automobiles for the pups.

“We’re planning trips to Chicago on the train and want to practice flying to New York. We need to find an airline to practice on,” Hintzman says.

Wink, wink.

For more information,
visit Pawsitism Inc. on Facebook.

BY PAMELA STACE, FREELANCER

When we think about 4-H, what usually comes to mind are images of kids raising and showing farm animals. Yes, that is part of it, but 4-H is so much more! Today’s 4-H is a comprehensive, hands-on, educational program for rural, suburban and urban youth in every state. According to their website, the purpose of 4-H is to empower young people with lifelong leadership skills. 4-H members pledge:

“My head to clearer thinking.
My heart to greater loyalty.
My hands to larger service.
My health to better living.

For my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

A Brief History of 4-H

4-H was started in 1902 with the intent of providing young boys in rural areas with learning experiences that would connect their public school studies with country life. In the 1950s, 4-H welcomed urban and suburban youth as well, and in the 1960s both boys and girls of all races were participating in 4-H.

4-H Project Areas

There are 119 project areas within 11 categories in 4-H. Categories include: Plant Science, Health, Environment, Earth Science, Physical Science, Leadership and Personal Development, Civic Engagement, Communications and Expressive Arts and Animal Science. With guidance from well-trained adult 4-H mentors, members from third to twelfth grade participate in community and afterschool events and camps. Within the Animal Science category, the Dog Project was established to “help youth explore what kind of dog fits into the family lifestyle, and how to be excellent trainers and caretakers of their dogs.”

The Dog Project

The 4-H Dog Project curriculum has three components: Wiggles and Wags (grades 3-5), Canine Connection (grades 6-8) and Leading the Pack (grades 9-12). Members earn certificates of completion for each of these segments on the way to their final Dog Project completion. The curriculum starts with the basics and layers on more detailed information as members proceed. For example, third graders start with learning about breeds, anatomy, basic care, dogs in society and dog-related careers. Grades 6-8 learn more about health and nutrition, genetic problems, training and population control. Finally, Leading the Pack participants delve into caring for the geriatric dog, training service dogs, first aid and learning about animal cruelty and neglect.

Affordable curriculum materials for the Dog Project, and dozens of downloads relating to every area of Dog Project study, are available on the 4-H website.

Conformation & The Dog Project

Dog Project members are encouraged to share what they are learning with others via public presentations, community activities and conformation events at county and state fairs. My friend Marylou Mader has been judging Wisconsin 4-H shows for 20 years, and she recently spoke with me about some of her experiences.

Mader enjoys seeing kids and their dogs return to the county fair shows year after year, but she told me it is bittersweet when they eventually complete and age out of the project. Dogs do not have to be purebreds, but a handler must choose a breed identity and speak knowledgeably about that. 4-H judges can also question handlers about other aspects of dog ownership, including grooming and care. Additionally, while in the ring, dogs must demonstrate obedience skills.

4-H uses the Danish judging system. This means that a dog is not judged against another dog in the ring but instead against a standard. This gives all participating dogs and their handlers a chance to be recognized for their hard work and practice. As a result, there can be more than one blue ribbon!

A Great Opportunity

4-H provides a fantastic opportunity for kids aged 8-18 to take their love of dogs to another level by learning about all things dog. It is not expensive to become a member, and 4-H can be found all over Southeastern Wisconsin!

To get started, visit: www.4-h.org

BY EMILY HESSE, FREELANCER

Year after year, animals of all kinds are being transported to veterinary clinics to deal with nightmare situations that leave pet owners scratching their heads.

Sometimes, nothing is more troublesome or frustrating than when our canine friends get a little mischievous and curious and end up getting themselves into unhealthy situations. These unfortunate circumstances cause us to wonder how these instances can be treated and how they can be prevented from happening again.

The following list will break down some of the most common hazards dogs, and even humans, have to look out for in the water.

Be sure to check your dog after each swim, make sure he or she is properly vaccinated, and know where the nearest animal hospital is in case something goes wrong during what was supposed to be a fun day out with your dog.

Bacteria, Viruses & Fungi

Water-born bacterial and fungal infections are the biggest problem to look out for when letting your dog play in different bodies of water. Although standing water tends to pose a higher risk for curating bacteria, river edges are known to store some of those creepy-crawlies as well. One serious fungal disease of animals that could potentially be transmitted to humans by way of open wounds is called blastomycosis. Three forms of illness that can derive from blastomycosis can affect the lungs, skin and total body.

Illness can develop 5 to 12 weeks after infection. One way to prevent this disease is by rinsing all the algae off your pet. Blasto spores kick up, and that’s how contamination happens. Systemic fungal disease and leptospirosis are also spread from the outdoors, especially environments with water.

Distemper vaccines can be given to prevent against leptospirosis, which is the standing water disease. Such exposure to infected bodies of water can give dogs seasonal allergies, ear infections and skin issues.

Pollution

Another reason why dogs and humans alike need to be careful in water environments is pollution. It’s sad to admit, but especially in city environments, pollution can really bring down natural habitats and all its inhabitants.

Broken glass, garbage, plastic or metal shards can be hiding at the bottom of our local rivers and lakes, and you’ll never know it or see it until stepping on it. Stepping on trash not only causes serious pain, but it can cause different infections that are life threatening. A way to prevent this from happening is by using trash bins provided all around cities and parks instead of tossing trash on the ground. And if you see trash on the ground or in the water from someone else, go the extra mile to pick it up and protect yourself and those around you.

Nature’s Elements

Sometimes there are nasty, sharp and dirty objects scattered around that can’t be prevented. These are natural elements such as sharp rocks and sticks under the water. Also, fast-moving rapids in rivers and strong waves in big bodies of water can threaten the safety of your dog as it goes out to fetch a stick you threw. Be as knowledgeable as you can about the kind of water you are dealing with and how to go about a situation in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, some injuries are near impossible to prevent, but many others are just one wise decision away from saving the day.

Leeches

Ah yes, the creepy-crawlies that always seemed to be lurking within every lake you swam in as a kid growing up in Wisconsin. Leeches are known to cling onto any part of skin that is exposed in their underwater environment. It’s common to find them latched onto your feet and inbetween your toes, but leeches also enjoy sucking the blood of your canine pal. Leeches that swell up from being left unnoticed can cause infections.

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are invasive species that can cause issues for our animal friends. Sometimes, due to the exposure of infected waters, dogs will get them on their feet. One way to prevent zebra mussels is to properly maintain beaches by raking. People also need to be conscious and clean off their boats.

BY EMILY HESSE, FREELANCER

It’s finally summertime in Wisconsin. Homeowners are busy cranking up the A/C and fulfilling plans to work in their gardens. Parents are running around trying to get their kids to summer camps, and families are loading up the old caravan to embark on their family vacations. But let’s not forget about our furry friends who are pawing at our doors, just begging to break free and go for their fifth walk of the day. That’s right, fifth. Well, so it seems. A great way to combat such anxiety and anticipation our dogs tend to exhibit in these moments is to let them sweat it out by exploring the great outdoors. We are all familiar with the phrase, “Want to go for a walk?” And certainly, we all know the spunky, head-tilting, perky-eared reaction that is sure to follow. But this summer, why not try saying something a little different? Here’s a new phrase: “Want to go for a… swim?” That one is sure to throw Fido for a loop. Nevertheless, your dog may be just as eager to splash through the water, as he or she is to walk down the neighborhood streets or run through the forest.

If the water life seems to float your dog’s boat, then you might want to take some time to check out a few of the beautiful lakes and rivers that Wisconsin has to offer. There are many parks in Southeastern Wisconsin alone that cater to the dog community. Some of these parks provide ample space for your pooch to roam the waterfront and dive into the cool, summer waters.

In order to research and experience the beauty of some of these doggy water parks, I took the opportunity to hop into my car and drive along with a friend and a four-legged companion to scope out potential hot spots. Though all it really took was a simple search on a map app to find some places, I went ahead and did the experiential research to find out for myself and report back. Among the many dog parks that are strewn throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, here are a few water-sourced ones to help your dog beat the heat this summer.

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Port Washington is a popular destination for humans and dogs alike. This place is not solely a dog park; however, dogs are very welcome and, in fact, encouraged to come and explore here alongside their human companions. Lion’s Den offers hiking, birdwatching, and fishing to the public, and it provides areas for folks to take a nice lunch break. Coursing throughout the 73-acre preserve are winding trails. These trails are kept nicely maintained for the public and are composed of mulch and gravel, which help absorb some of spring’s heavy rainfalls. There are several bridges along the way, which can make for fun photo opportunities. Not only do the trails take you twisting and turning among the trees, but they also lead to something even more spectacular. If you and your dog happen upon the right paths, you will be taken to either the bluff where you can overlook Lake Michigan or walk down to the lakefront.

The bluff is great for getting a grand, bird’s-eye view of the vast body of water and a strong breeze blowing through your hair. It provides the perfect backdrop to snap the selfie of your dreams of you and your pup. If you choose to go down to the lakefront, you will come across a wooden stairway that runs up and down the bluff to the refreshing water below. Although the stairway is steep, don’t worry; there are plenty of level spots along the way to rest. Upon reaching the bottom, you will be greeted by a long, sandy beach where the waves lap ashore. Sections of the beach have small rocks along the shoreline as well, which can help your pooch dry off a little before getting their wet feet too sandy to bring back into the car. This beachfront will give you all the space you need to play fetch with your dog as they challenge the waves of Lake Michigan.

Among the handful of beachgoers that day we visited, there were a few courageous pooches that dove into the water with full energy. One of them was a beautiful Australian Shepherd named Willow, who was eager to show-off her retrieving skills to nearby observers. Willow’s caretaker, Amanda Gonzalez, says she’s been coming there for a little over a year now. “This is definitely our favorite,” she quips. Gonzalez and Willow are among the regulars at Lion’s Den, but it’s not uncommon to meet people who check out the park from out of town and even out of state. One of the hikers that came down to the beach was Zach Rosenblatt with his handsome, brindle-colored dog Payton. Rosenblatt says, “This is the first time we’ve ever been here. We live in Chicago.” As Rosenblatt explained their origins, Payton proceeded to show me the ‘good boy’ he was by sitting and posing for the camera.

Many of the people who come to the trails to run or get in a good hike with their dogs find the water to be great for a post-workout cool down. Gonzalez went on to explain, “We usually run a bit first. [Willow] can then cool off in the waves at the beach. She requires a lot of exercise. Sometimes we bring a little lunch.” This special preserve of land has proven to be a gem in Southeastern Wisconsin. If you and your adventure buddy are looking to get out and explore an area with such biodiversity and natural beauty with plenty of places to rest, then give this park a good look this summer.

Lion’s Den is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the beauty that this park has to offer, and it is free-of-charge upon arrival. It also provides off-street parking—perfect for pulling up and letting your dog hop out of the car without fear of traffic from a busy highway. Like most public areas, it is required you keep your dogs on a leash and clean up after them. Bathrooms and disposal areas are available as well. Lion’s Den has received an average rating of 4.5 stars from different Google reviews, so the experience at this park is sure to keep those tails wagging.

Another park to keep on your radar this summer is Granville Dog Park located in the greater Milwaukee area. If you and Fido are looking to escape the city life but don’t want to travel too far outside of town, this park is a good place to start. Although this dog park is located practically in the city, it most certainly gives off rural vibes due to its 10 acres of trees, trails and river access. Keep a watchful eye because its entrance can be easy to miss but nevertheless, it is conveniently located right off Highway 45 and Good Hope Road. This section of land has quite a playful landscape for dogs, especially for the more athletically inclined and the true adventure seekers. It has hills, trees, shrubs, dirt paths and tall grass. But more importantly, the most prized piece of the land is, of course, the Menomonee River.

Upon walking into Granville Dog Park, everything seems to remain fairly quaint. To the left, there is a pathway that takes you up onto a steep hill where one can overlook the grassland and treetops for quite a distance. There’s even a bench provided. From the top of the hill, looping down, around and throughout the rest of the park are a bunch of little trails where your dog can roam free. Be careful as you walk around; some of the paths aren’t any bigger than an average-sized deer trail, and at this park, there are only dirt pathways. At the very least, this provides even more of a fun, off-roading adventure for your four-legged companion, right? To the left there is a beautiful, relaxing overlook, but to the right… That’s where the real adventure awaits. As you proceed down the path on the right, you may start to hear the commotion of happy dogs at play. Barking, splashing, humans yelling out directions to their K-9 counterparts and the flow of the river are all common sounds to be heard in Granville. At the riverfront, you may find the more active dogs chasing after toys their caretakers throw into the water for them or chasing after each other’s tails. You can also find older or smaller dogs basking in the cool river water or laying down under the shade of a big tree. Picnic tables are available to those who want to relax and enjoy their furry friends at play or sit down to a nice lunch in the shade.

Regardless of the inevitable water that is going to be splashed onto you and your clothing, this park has positive feedback. According to the online source, BringFido, “Granville Dog Park has received a rating of 4.8 out of 5 bones by 5 dog owners.” Granville Dog Park does not require dogs to be on a leash, even though a fence does not surround the whole property. Three sides of the property are fenced while the river acts as a fence on the fourth side. Also, proper dog licensing and permit tags must be available, including rabies vaccinations. Granville is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day of the week. The park also offers disposal bins to get rid of any trash or waste that comes from your time spent here. Another bonus: This park is free of charge.

Our last and final stops on the doggy (water) park tour ends with a couple brief suggestions of excellent places where dog owners can get just as much joy out of the experience as do their four-legged friends. Estabrook Park Dog Exercise Area coincides with the Estabrook Beer garden in Shorewood. This makes it the perfect summer hangout for both dogs and humans. Running alongside the Estabrook Park is the Milwaukee River. This provides another opportunity for you to take a stroll alongside the river with your furry pal or to let him or her roam around in the off-leash and fenced-in area of the park, whilst you enjoy a nice brew. Permits, licensing and rabies vaccinations are required for this park, along with a daily or yearly pass in order to enter the dog park.

Lastly, Ridge Run Park, located in the heart of West Bend, provides winding trails through a wooded area and an ample body of water. As long as your dog is on a 6-foot leash, he or she can enjoy wading in the slow-moving water within this park. The park provides hikers with a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, so it’s sure to have scenic views. Within Ridge Run, there are many pavilions and shelters so you and your dog can take a rest or have a lunch break if desired. This park has no entry fee.

As animal lovers, not only do we want to live our best life for our families and ourselves, but we also seek to give our dogs the same kind of love and respect so they can live their best life, too. After all, dogs truly are man’s best friend, and they are just as much a part of our family as they ever could be.

So, before summer is over, take some time to not only plan out the big getaway vacations you want to take with your family and friends, but also spend some time traveling around with your pup to find his or her perfect getaway. Load up the car with some old towels, doggy bags, retrieving toys and some good tunes, and surprise your pup with the water park vacation getaway about which he or she has been having all those puppy dreams.

By PATTI MURACZEWSKI, CPDT-KA, CABC, BA

I was 40 years old when I presented at my first dog camp: A camp designed for dogs and their owners who want to have a great time in nature. I wasn’t prepared for being wowed, and after 20 years of presenting at dog camps, I continue to be wowed. I am proud to be an instructor with Camp Dogwood, the only dog camp in Wisconsin, and one of only a handful across the country.

Staff and campers find it hard to explain why this experience is so addicting, so much so that many campers vie to get a spot for the next camp before the current one is even over. The closest word that I have heard used to describe this experience is “magical.” I think this is because everyone attending is enjoying valued time with their best friend or best friends as campers can bring up to three dogs at Camp Dogwood. However, that is just one part of it.

People who attend are like me; they want to learn more about activities there that they can continue to do with their dog at home. The camp offers very active sessions such as hiking and lectures about all dog-related topics, as well as hands on activities such as baking for your dog. An incredible bond is formed. It is like what young people often feel when they attend a children’s summer camp. What is different is these camp friendships are not as fast to slip away because social media makes it easier to keep in touch afterward.

Camp Dogwood was started at Camp Henry Horner in Illinois but a few years ago moved to Perlstein and Chi Resort up at the Wisconsin Dells. The move opened even more experiences to share with your dog specific to the Dells area. Every fall and spring, campers are given the opportunity to take a ride on the Wisconsin Dells Ducks and yes, with their dogs! The hiking paths are long and the camp acreage is large and beautiful.

Most of the camps throughout the country are attached to a lake that provides a great place for dogs to swim at the spring and fall camps. At Camp Dogwood in the wintertime, if there is solid ice on the lake, dogs can learn to pull a sled or mush on the lake. Last year, a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seemed to have a better time pulling than even the Nordic breeds.

The variety of activities are vast, but camps pride themselves in introducing sports and activities that are on the cutting edge. This means you can count on something new being added to almost every camp. Some of the newest activities added at Camp Dogwood are core conditioning for dogs, dog friendly yoga, shed hunting and brush hunt. This always keeps the camp fresh.

Like any type of camp, crafts are offered. Most crafts offered center around dogs such as handmade leashes, dog bowls, etched glass, friendship stones, flirt poles or snuffle mats. Dog camps vary in the number of days they run. One of the camps out east, Camp Gone to The Dogs, offers a week of activities while other camps run for three to four days. Alysa Slay and Dave Eisendrath co-founded Camp Dogwood in 2001. Alysa found that some campers wanted a longer experience. Camp Dogwood now offers extended camp, and this allows the campers to come a day early just to chill. Needless to say, extended camp has become very popular. The cost of this experience varies, but it can average around $225 per day, which includes lodging and meals.

National Camps

If anything in this article appeals to you, take the time to look up and research the various dog camps to discover what they have to offer. There are a number of camps throughout the country, and each camp has its own flavor. Here is a list of some of the existing camps: Camp Dogwood, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Camp Gone to the Dogs, Stowe, Vt.; Camp Unleashed, Mass. and Georgia; Canine Club Getaway, Lake George, N.Y.; Dog Scouts of America; and Maian Meadows Dog Camp, Lake Wenatchee, Wash.

It is not unusual for someone to travel across the country to attend a camp. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see different states with your best friend.

By LAUREN NELSON

Whether it’s a day trip to a dog-friendly state park or a weekend away at a disc dog competition, preparation is key. But where does one start to prepare when a simple Google search can deliver an abundance of overwhelming recommendations? Easy. Start here!

Before any shopping begins, make an appointment to visit the vet. Having a dog up-to-date on vaccines and ensuring their microchip is working will make trips away from home less stressful. A quick checkup can also prevent any minor unnoticeable injuries from escalating while hiking or participating in any physical activity. After getting the go-ahead from the vet, pack these five essential products that are a must-have for an easy, breezy trip.

1. Harness With Leash: Choosing a harness over a traditional collar can prevent injuries and can give the handler more control. A harness disperses the pressure from one smaller area on the neck, to the back and the body. Harnesses are also great training tools as they discourage pulling. When a dog is wearing a collar and pulls on the leash, they are still moving forward, which makes them think the pulling is successful. A harness, whether attached on the chest or between the shoulder blades, redirects them. There’s no reward because pulling doesn’t get him anywhere. Harnesses have varied features and uses to help decide which caters best to the specific needs of each dog. Do your research before deciding on the best fit for your dog. Consider the safety, durability, style, comfort and cost.

Some options may include:
• Nylon
• Soft mesh
• Fleece
• Cooling
• Reflective or light-up LED
• Easy-walk
• No-pull
• Heavy-duty
• Padded neoprene
• Front-clip, back-clip or tightening
• And more…

2. Poop Bags: Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your dog and being mindful about how the bags affect the environment. GreenLine Poop Bags are strong, durable bags that are designed to be biodegradable anywhere, even in landfills.

3. Water Jugs & Bowl: When traveling anywhere with a dog, bringing water is a must, and there are several different collapsing bowls or traveling mugs. For instance, Kurgo’s Collaps a Bowl makes it very easy to give your dog water on the go. This travel companion is barely an inch thick and collapses to fit anywhere. It holds up to 24 fluid ounces and is dishwasher friendly as well as BPA free. When thinking about packing water, the ASPCA recommends bottled water to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach with new tap water.

4. Food and Treats: Every dog works up an appetite when taking on new trails or participating in high-flying competitions, so packing snacks is non-negotiable. It’s also a good idea to keep kibble and treats on hand to reward good behaviors throughout the day and work on obedience training. Choosing the right food or treats is subjective. So go with your gut since you know your dog best.

5. Flea and Tick Collar: In the outdoors, fleas and ticks wait to pounce and can cause some serious health issues if they find their way under your pets’ fur. In addition to using preventive care every year when going outdoors, especially during the spring and summer when fleas and ticks are most active, it’s important to have extra protection. Earth Animal Flea and Tick Collars have a special combination of Virginia Cedar, Peppermint and Almond Oil, and the collars to repel both fleas and ticks. They are safe for animals, humans and the environment. When returning home, don’t skip checking your pets’ fur for fleas and ticks after they’ve been in the outdoors.

By LAUREN NELSON

After the polar vortex brought in wind chills of -55 degrees at the end of January, it’s safe to say every pup is ready to stretch their legs and embrace spring with fresh and fun things to do. Searching for new activities for dogs to get involved in can be tricky as they range from dog-sports to simply finding mind-stimulating games to give dogs on a rainy day. Whatever the activity level of your furry friend, there’s sure to be something here they can happily put their paws into.

High Activity Level:
Flyball is a new, unique, fast-paced team sport for dogs. The relay-style race is a perfect match for all healthy, high-energy dogs regardless of size, age or breed.

The sport goes like this. There are two teams made up of a minimum of four dogs. These two teams race side by side down a course of four jumps that are set to five inches below the shoulder height of the shortest dog on the team. Once they complete the four jumps, they get to a Flyball box. The box holds a tennis ball that ejects when the dog hits the front of the box. The objective of Flyball is for each dog to go over the jumps, hit the box, catch the ball and return over the jumps as fast as they can with the handlers remaining behind the start/finish line. Each dog takes a turn running the course and the round is complete when all four dogs have passed the finish line with no errors. The win is determined by the fastest team who completes three out of five heats.

The first step to entering the Flyball world is to first schedule and examination of your dog with your vet. It’s important to make sure they don’t have any underlying conditions that might be triggered by the impact of the sport. After the all-clear from the vet, command and obedience training is key.

Flyball encourages the improvement of focus and motivation and is different from agility because it requires teamwork between all dogs and handlers on the team. To be successful, they all must work together throughout the entire challenging, complex and fun sport. Other activities high-energy dogs excel at and require handler interaction and training are agility, disc training and dock diving.

Moderate Activity Level:
Canicross is cross country running with a dog companion and is dog-powered. The dogs are harnessed and attached to the human, and they work as a team to complete the race. The human acts as the driver, directing the dog where to go from behind the lead using voice commands. It’s an easy, low-impact sport for both dogs and humans. It also provides a method to get a human and a canine fit but works the dog’s mind and allows them to use their brain in a work mode. Any breed is welcome into the sport as long as they are fit, healthy and able to run distance.

Low Activity Level:
Dog puzzles and games are a perfect fit for low-energy dogs who prefer to be more stationary. Interactive toys are designed to help keep dogs working, challenge them mentally and get their heart pumping. Every dog is different, which is why different personalities and breeds may dictate the most successful puzzle or game. Regardless of the toy that works best for each dog, the bottom line is that an occupied mind makes a happy dog. Some of the highly reviewed puzzles and toys include the Dog Tornado Puzzle, Treat Maze, Bob-A-Lot and the Dog Brick Puzzle.

By CHERESE COBB

Don’t we all want our pets to have the latest and greatest gadgets? Whether furry, feathered or flippers a-flapping, they’re part of our families, after all. But there are so many products on the shelves that it’s hard to know which ones work and even harder to know which ones your pets will actually like.

So we’ve rounded up 10 unusually cool pet products that will make you say, “Why didn’t I buy this sooner?”

1. Pineapple Microplush Pet Bed
Nandog Pet Gear; $49
Nandog.com

Your pupperinos don’t have to have square pants or live in Bikini Bottom to nestle in this pineapple-shaped pet bed. Featuring a bright, tropical yellow exterior with a leafy green top, this cheerful and spacious cuddler cave is the perfect hidey-hole for a midday snooze or a sound night’s sleep. Designed with both comfort and convenience in mind, it fits snugly in tight corners and has a non-toxic, polyester cushion that can be hand-washed, keeping it as fresh as an island breeze.

2. Playology Dri-Tech Rope Knot Dog Toy
Playology; $9.99
Playologypets.com

Do you find yourself buying expensive dog toys and watching them be chomped to bits in minutes or hours, if you’re lucky? Then let your destructo-pups roughhouse with this extra-durable rope knot by Playology. It’s infused with an all-natural chicken, beef, bacon, cheddar cheese or peanut butter scent that lasts for at least six months, even after being rinsed with warm water. Made with fibers that wick away slobber and can’t be swallowed, your woofers will be tied in knots while noshing on this game-changing chewer.

3. Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy™
PetSmart; $39.95
Petsmart.com

Crate training, thunderstorms and fireworks can make your dogs feel like cables that are being stretched too tight and beginning to fray. Melt away your dog’s stress and curb their bad behaviors, like excessive scratching and snarling, with the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy. It features a real-feel, pulsing heartbeat that lasts up to two weeks on one set of AAA batteries and a non-toxic, disposable warming pack.

4. Noxgear LightHound
Noxgear; $55.95
Noxgear.com

Made with military-grade CORDURA® fabric, the Noxgear Lighthound is like a party on a leash, with solid-color flashing and slow-fading color modes such as cool comet, independence day and photon burst. With 360-degree illumination, reflectivity and fluorescence, it’s visible for over half a mile. The LightHound is weatherproof, lightweight and machine washable with micro-USB rechargeable LED lights that last up to 12 hours. It quickly slides over your dogs’ favorite collars, harnesses or jackets, making sure that they’re always homeward bound.

5. Petcube Play
Petcube; $129 with 1-year care subscription
Petcube.com

Ever wondered what your pets get up to when they’re home alone? While they’re probably not massaging themselves with your KitchenAid, they might suffer from separation anxiety, depression or boredom. If they’re nibbling on your Nike Air Prestos, puffing up at the mailman or swatting at your vintage Tiffany lamp, break their anxiety with Petcube Play.

Featuring two-way audio, night vision and 3x digital zoom, it has a built-in laser that can be set to autoplay. The WiFi pet camera also has a cloud recording video service that provides up to 10 days of timeline history, reporting major sound and motion events straight to your smartphone.

6. Chuckit! Flying Squirrel
Natural Pet Warehouse; $9.99
Naturalpetwarehouse.com

Here’s one squirrel who loves being chased. The Chuckit! Flying Squirrel is made from heavy-duty canvas that will withstand rugged play while its soft, curved sides are gentle on your dog’s mouth. Fling him by his bright orange “paws” for a far-flung game of fetch. He also glows in the dark for engaging outdoor play, ideal for pets who are active at night or pet parents who work mid-shift. With water-resistant rubber feet, he floats in water for a splashing good time at the pool, lake or ocean.

7. Pretty Litter
Pretty Litter; $22
Prettylittercats.com

Unless you’re able to toilet train your cat like Robert De Niro in “Meet the Parents,” you’re stuck with a litter box that has big, ammonia-smelling lumps and dust clouds. Tired of masking the smell of urine and feces with baking soda and lifting 20-pound bags of litter? Try PrettyLitter. Made of highly absorbent silica microcrystals, it traps odors and bacteria while allowing moisture to evaporate. So you’ll only have to scoop the poop. For a single cat, a four-pound bag lasts an entire month and detects illnesses early, simply by changing colors. Yellow and olive green are normal, while blue, red, bright green and orange are telltale signs of UTIs, inflammation and kidney issues.

8. Wooly Snuffle Mat
Paws 5; $39.95
Paw5.us

Handmade from a combination of virgin and upcycled materials, the Wooly Snuffle Mat is a playground for your canine’s nose. Hide kibble, treats or soft veggies between its fabric tassels and your dogs will snuffle, snort and sniff their way through dinner or snack time. Available in modern gray and machine-washable, this interactive puzzle toy encourages natural foraging skills by mimicking the hunt for food in grass. If your walks are growing shorter because of sour weather, your jam-packed schedule or your senior pet’s achy joints, it improves learning and memory while burning off excess energy.

9. Rover 7v Battery Heated Dog Jacket with Bluetooth
Cozy Winters, $119
Cozywinters.com

The Rover Battery Heated Dog Jacket is worth investing in before Mother Nature’s next snow parade. Made from a lightweight nylon fabric, it has a neck collar slot for on-leash activity and Phoslite reflective safety trim. This Bluetooth dog vest uses powerful yet lightweight rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can last up to 13 hours. Change its temperature (90°F on low to 104°F on high) on-the-fly wirelessly with the MW Connect app or use the built-in touch control button. Available in navy or red, it also comes in “Rover” for larger dogs and “Rover Mini” for toy-sized pets.

10. The Fat Cat Backpack
Your Cat Backpack; $119
Yourcatbackpack.com

Whether you’re using the Fat Cat Backpack to explore the great outdoors or take regular trips to the vet, it’s never been easier or more adorable to carry your cat. Designed for big-boned breeds like Maine Coons and American Bobtails, this bubble bag holds nearly 20 pounds. It also has a bungee where you can clip a leash or harness so your cat can just hang out. Featuring mesh sides where you can stash treats and a water bottle, The Fat Cat has air holes in the front, a detachable bubble and a Velcro mat that’s machine washable. Available in charcoal or pink, it has enough room for your feline friend to lay down and turn around completely.