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7 Wishes For Families With Dogs In Need Of Space

Ah, 2014. Here she comes! A new year always gets me thinking about what I want for myself in the coming months, but this year I thought: What do I want for all of YOU? For the most part, I’m wishing that you guys are happy, healthy, and discover a river of gold nugget speckled peanut butter running under your property.

But, if I ever do manage to trap a real life Genie, here’s a few other things I’d wish for DINOS families (and all the other dogs too):

1. A veterinarian that uses low-stress handling techniques and treats you and your dog with compassion. I wish this for all of us. Having a skilled, empathetic vet and vet tech that you trust to handle your dog is a huge. HUGE. Here are some leads on vets that might fit that bill.

Also, while we’re wishing, let’s ask for a vet practice with an amazing front desk staff that will make you feel like a movie star (instead of gargoyle with a troll dog) when you use the back door to get into the clinic.

2. That no one gives your dog Henrietta the Chicken. I wish that no one has to hear the sound this toy makes. It’s hysterical, but listening to Henrietta squawk for more than 45 seconds is considered a legal form of torture in at least a dozen countries. A couple of years ago, I worked in a pet store that sold these by the tub full and listened to children squeezing them. All. Day. Long. I sincerely apologize to everyone I ever gave this to as a gift (which is most of my dog walking clients).


One squeeze of Henrietta can bring even the toughest man to his knees.

3. A vacation from your dogs. If you have a dog with behavior or medical issues then you’re probably working harder than you even realize to take care of them each day. I wish that all of you are able to take a day or seven off from caring for your dogs. Getting a little time away from your dogs (and allowing yourselves to enjoy it) can be restorative and help you hang in with them for the long haul.

Which leads to…

4. Someone you trust to pitch in. I wish that all of you are able to find a pet sitter, a boarding facility, or a friend that you can trust to help you care for your dog. Whether it’s a friend that can watch your dogs while you go away for a week or a dog walker that can provide some mid-day relief, my wish is that all of you eventually find someone you can lean on, so that you aren’t the only one who can care for your dogs.

5. At least one route to walk your dogs that is predictably safe. I wish that all of you find at least one dog walking route that you can enjoy without fear of being chased by loose dogs.  If you do find one, don’t worry about variety. Find and walk the safe route. You can spice up your dog’s life in other ways, like going Cosmic Bowling or taking a Zumba class together (or playing training games, going for group walks, and doing Noseworks).

Which leads to…

6. A magic belt to defend against rogue people and dogs. I wish all of you a set of gadgets, like the ones Data from Goonies had, that will keep loose dogs at a distance, block invasive people from petting your dogs, help you escape from a tight spot, and let you outwit Mama and her thieving sons so you get to One-Eyed Willy’s treasure first. Maybe this one is a stretch. But it’s my wish for you. You can’t stop me.


Respect my boundaries or you’ll get booty trapped.

7. Enough good times to counterbalance the challenges. Before January is over I want you to do this: List ten things you really love about your dog.

They can be big things:

He’s an award winning polka dance champion.

He’s totally house trained.

He never chases the cats.

He used to “debate” every dog he saw, but now he only starts rowdy philosophical discussions on Wednesdays.

Or small things:

He smells like cotton candy even when I forget to give him a bath for a year.

He sleeps in on the weekends.

He takes treats gently.

He does not have a Henrietta.

Or whatever it is that you love about your dog.

Now put this list in your drawer. The next time you have a terrible dog walk and you’re secretly thinking that it might be time to  “donate” your dog to charity: Read your list.

Ok, that’s my seven wishes, but I do have others, like: the ability to freeze time, a coat pocket that generates a never ending supply of stinky treats, and a magical dog park that only you know about. But until I find that Genie, I’ll just wish all of you happiness, health, and peanut butter gold riches in 2014!

  1. Thanks I wish I had that magic belt every day. too many lose dogs in my neighborhood and you never know when they will come out.

    December 29, 2013
  2. barksNpurrs #

    Thanks so much ! We wish all the same for you & your family…..
    We just adopted another “dog in need”….a 5.5 yr old sweetie, from a shelter….she has some issues but is quickly adapting–today is her 1 week Anniversary joining our family…..just LOVE being a part of her progress.
    I’m lucky, I do have a great Vet & staff, who accept & have accepted ALL of our challenging animals, over the 30+ years….
    Here’s looking forward to a wonderful, safe & happy walking 2014 !

    December 29, 2013
  3. Great list! its so nice to know that I’m not the only one who wishes for this stuff!

    December 29, 2013
  4. Thanks for your kind thoughts and holiday cheer. Knowing someone is out there is a great comfort and your blog makes me smile, laugh which is even better.

    December 30, 2013
  5. MAGICAL DOG PARK. Oh yes. Please yes. (Anyone up there listening?)

    December 30, 2013
  6. Adriane Wallace #

    Thank you for always being wonderful and funny even with serious subjects 🙂 I wish all of these things for you and many happy smiles and wonderful days this year 🙂

    December 30, 2013
  7. Karen DeBraal #

    Hahaha! Loved this list. Thanks for the smiles!

    December 31, 2013
  8. A great post! Thanks for sharing this, and happy new year to you and your pack! Thanks for your work and writing on behalf of reactive dogs.

    December 31, 2013
  9. I loved this post, thank you!

    December 31, 2013
  10. Lynn and Molly #

    Jessica, I am sorry I have never posted in the three plus years I have been reading your blog. In all this time I have turned to you for resources, but more important, to feel a connection with someone who knows what life is like with a dog who can turn a twenty foot journey from the front door to the car into a project that requires a checklist and a contingency plan.

    Sometimes your posts are eerily in line with a particular issue we have been having, and your wishes for the new year are precisely what we have been hoping for ourselves.

    Thank you for writing.

    All the best for the new year.
    Lynn (the mom) and Molly (the pit)

    December 31, 2013
    • Lynn, your kind comment was the first thing I read today and a lovely way to start the New Year. Thank you for reading and saying hello! I’m wishing you and Molly a year full of easy trips, safe walks, and happy moments together.

      January 1, 2014
  11. jessica — I can’t thank you enough for not only caring for your ‘difficult’ dogs, but for taking the time to help the rest of us with ours. my DINOS passed away more than a year ago and I still read your posts, and not only marvel at your spot-on advice, laugh at your much-needed humor, but often cry at the memories your descriptions evoke. you are the friend I wish I had at the park — but of course, we never would have been able to get close enough the actually speak to one another… 😉

    January 12, 2014
    • Your kind words were so nice to read this morning. Thank you! And you’re right – we probably wouldn’t have gotten to meet (at least not while out with our dogs) but you bet I’d wave to you from my side of the street. Wishing you good things in 2014!

      January 13, 2014

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