Dear Mutts:

I know, I know, you are not mutts but splendid Labrador Retrievers with the best pedigree ever. I remember the first time I took you to our new vet. You must have been around 3 months old, and I told him: “Meet my mutts!” He looked at me, puzzled, and managed to say: “They are not pure Labs?” You were all protesting with tails up in the air! But you are my mutts? No offense there! I am a mutt too with some French, Scandinavian, and Italian blood.


Letter to George

I know, before you were born, I was ready to change the face of this Earth with your birth, imagining your new families, and how they would be amazed by each of you. I had them lined up at that time. That was before you were born! And the miracle happened, and I just got crazy with my camera. Yes, George, if you listen to me from the other side of the rainbow, I did make some mistakes. Not my fault if Zoe was coming so fast after you, and I thought Lola was lost in the process, and yes I did cut your umbilical cord which made my poor Lola not understanding something. She knew she had to do something that she did not do. Okay, George you did win! I paid for it it every minute of every day when I decided to sit down! You never allowed me a second without you on my lap. Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa! You were my first born! There was a reason; we nicknamed you “Big Mouth”. And now that you are gone, I miss “my 80lbs lap dog” that you were so much.



We were so careful not giving you names but just funny nicknames going with your personality! The second one was Zoe, aka Blondie! She still has some blonde moments now and then, meaning 24/7! But Zoe even though sometimes I wonder if Lola did not have a thing with the postman’s dog, you are the cutest one! And you do watch TV!


You don’t remember it Mutts, but we waited a long time, Deborah, Jessica, and I for the entrance into this world of his Majesty Jackson, nicknamed “Boubou!” Sophie, my reddish girl did not wait a second to go on Lola’s teats, and of course she became “Ms. Piggy”. Max I owe you an apology too! If we had not known that day that there were 5 of you, I would have gone to bed by then, but instead I fell asleep on the floor, and Jessica was the only one to witness the arrival of “Baby” into the world! It took you two hours darn Max to grace us with your presence.


I don’t know if you remember Mutts but the first month was a dream, besides cutting your nails! Gosh you were worse than cats! But after a month, Lola decided it was time for me to help, and I thought “Gosh I better enjoy them, they will be gone in 4 more weeks.” No, I am not saying it was wishful thinking! I loved you before you even opened your eyes! I knew it was going to be hard to let you go, at least four of you were almost taken, almost…. Until everyone, one after the other decided it was not the best time to have one of you! I did try to find you new homes, I did! I built that website, put ads at our vet, but I rescued dogs before, and the one who will stay forever the dog of my life, Zeus. And I could not let you go without being 100 % sure that you would not end up like Zeus did, changing owners every year until I came into the picture. Mutts, you also have to realize that Spring 2009 could have been named “Morons Spring”. I got them all…. The moron who wanted two of you boys after losing his three labs one winter after pouring anti-freeze into their kiddie pool, the one who wanted Miss Piggy so bad because she was tired of intelligent dogs…. What do you say to that? Wanna tell me? I was going to forget the hunter who wanted Sophie too. Sophie was very popular, and still is! But what could I have said after he told me it would have been his second lab, he discarded the first one because she was too old to work…. Yeah, right. And I was almost going to forget the one who wanted to get a yellow lab to give as a gift to our daughter going to college? Were you on crack lady?


STA72370 - CopyEngraved forever in my mind is the way you were glued to each other in your playpen when someone was coming to see you. It was like you knew that there was a risk someone was going to take one of you away, and you had that funny way of backing out up the end of the playpen and being like a huge ball of fur with 10 scared eyes, and no happy tails! You broke my heart that day…..



One more time though, I had someone for Sophie, a nice lady who had just lost her dog, and wanted Ms. Piggy again, and I said yes… until the next day where I called her back to say no. I couldn’t let go my smart ass Sophie, half monkey, half lab. Do you remember Sophie when you were back in your playpen, and I was turning my back 2 minutes and you had already climbed over the fence? Smart ass you were, smart ass you are! I swear I can almost hear your brain work! The day I decided that no one was leaving was just a regular day. No special recollection of it except that phone call. That lady who barked at me without even introducing herself “what are the colors of your females?”, and it takes a smart ass to know one Sophie, my answer was: “I have one with blue and green polka dots, and the other one has orange and purple ones. Any color you are interested in?” She hung up on me. No big surprise there!


Mutts, the worst thing we had to do when it was clear that you were going to be forever ours, was to pick up names. I am so picky about names, and usually one takes me a long time, five, are you kidding me? Fortunately Jessica was around and helped a lot, and that’s how that Jackson, George, Max, Sophie and Zoe became our mutts….


Some could say that with the pedigree they have between FC Honor who is the most amazing living being, and Lola, my born to retrieve girl, I wasted them. Do I feel guilty that they did not become champions or working dogs hunting in the fields? No, I am not guilty your Honor! How many mutts have the opportunity to stay together, and live together ever after? They stick together, they sleep together, they play together, and Lola the Mom was still in charge until almost the end. Already a month that your Mom is gone, and we still haven’t totally bounced by from her death, but we will, right mutts? Yes, Jackson you are a bit too quiet, and Max you are a little bit too loud when I leave in the morning while Sophie always try to help me (she is such a good helper!)  grabs you by your neck to make you stay inside when I go.


This letter is to tell you Mutts that even though sometimes I can get upset with one of you or all of you on a very bad day, but seven years later,  I am like in the Edith Piaf song: “Je ne regrette rien.” Case closed.

Dominique the Labrador Addict









Not long ago, I entered an already quite crowded elevator: a guy with a Saint Bernard and a young woman who just obviously just coming back from the gym. I love dogs. Any kind: the mutts, the purebred, the senior ones, the crippled ones. I love them all. I can’t say the same for their humans though!


The Saint Bernard was sniffing the young woman’s crotch, and she was clearly very uncomfortable. The owner of the dog was smiling instead of pulling his dog away; that’s the kind of moment where I have to control my temper! Fortunately, the young woman got off the elevator fast, maybe on purpose. In my book, it’s called bullying.

I know, everyone, starting with myself, believes that their dogs are the cutest ones on this earth, and seriously, they are. But it doesn’t mean that everyone is seeing them with my or your eyes.

Some people are afraid of dogs, some are just “not dog people”, and some don’t want to be littered with dog’s hair. I never “force” my dogs on anyone! If one of them gets inappropriate with someone, I pull back on the leash, and I apologize, because yes – breaking news! – I am not perfect! And my crew is not either! I walk Maia and Max, two of my labs, by a lake. And every time I see a specific lady coming, I make the dogs sit to give her some space. That is after one day, she screamed bloody hell at me because one of my dogs was too close to her that she liked it. One day, out of the blue, she thanked me for keeping my labs at large, and I replied you know “No sweat, I got it that not everyone likes dogs!” She then told me that she did not like them or dislike them but in her country, cats were the only pets, dogs were food. And trying to convince me, she asked me “How would you feel if you were in a country where people walk with their pigs for instance?” My reply was that most likely I would go to pet the pigs, but that’s just me! But I have to say that now, each time, I see her when I walk the dogs, I feel like she is looking at them like she is seeing two dog roasts with parsley in their nostrils!



What is unfair is that PEOPLE WILL RESENT THE DOGS instead of resenting their humans! I know it’s something I said and said over and over, but there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

There is a leash law in this country, if my memory is good, and there is a reason for that. If I hear one more time from an owner with an unleashed dog coming straight at me and my restrained ones: “He is sweet, je just wants to play” I am going to scream out of frustration!


I am not trying to preach, I am just trying to make some people realize that you have to respect another dog’s or another person’s boundaries.

A French philosopher said one time: “Your freedom stops where mine starts.” Maybe we should conjugate this at every tense! There are many places where you can have your dog run free: your backyard, dogs parks, dogs beaches. Dogs are amazing beings and they should never ever be seen as a nuisance. It’s too unfair to them!



Don’t be lenient with your dog. A well trained dog is a happy one. They are like kids: they need to know the limits. An out of control dog becomes a nuisance.

Some time ago, one of my labs, Zoe, had knee surgery, and as part of her rehab, we had to talk walks, a bit longer every day. We were quietly walking in my neighborhood, when I saw some hundred feet away an unleashed Golden retriever with his Human. I nicely asked the guy to put his dog back on a leash. His reply was: “My dog is friendly. He just wants to play! And I don’t have a leash anyway!”

My answer was: “My dog just had surgery. She can’t play!”

He tried to grab his dog’s collar, lost control, fell down while his 100lbs. dog lunged at me and Zoe. Zoe was shaking with fear, and even peed on herself. The dog sensed it, and started to become aggressive. I would never have thought that I would ever meet an aggressive Golden! I literally had to kick the dog away until his owner finally made it! His first question was: “What’s wrong with you?”



Then, he got on his knees and started “consoling” his dog, telling him I did not mean to kick him, that he was a good boy, that he loved him…. Seriously? It did not happen once, but several times. And I just stopped walking Zoe there. I never managed to get into the owner’s brain. Too thick? No clue. He just doesn’t get that his out of control dog is a nuisance, and can also get hurt if he gets into traffic running after a squirrel, deer or something else. Yes, the dog is cute, but that’s besides the point. Not everyone want to have in their face a 100lbs. rambunctious dog!



Be in control of your dog at all time for his or her own safety!




If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on the leash or collar: stay away. It means that the dog needs his or her space for whatever reasons.



Remember that there is no balance if one dog is on a leash and yours is unleashed. The leashed one can feel cornered.

When you are going to meet another dog, ask if it’s okay for them to smell each other’s butts. Hey that’s what dogs do!

Be the parent of your dog, not his best buddy!



Teach your children not to run to pet an unknown dog: what is true for the dogs is also true for the children! I always cringe when I see small children running and screaming toward dogs. The sweetest dog could be spooked by a child going straight at him or her.

Always ask permission to pet a dog.

Approach your hands slowly to allow the dog to smell them.

If the dog backs out, don’t force it.

Follow the directions of the owner. Some like I do will make their dogs sit in order for you not to have muddy paws all over you!

Good manners will always take you a long way no matter if you are a two or a four-legged one!



I had a rough year, I mean, you really have to try hard to beat me on that one, and I am not into competition, believe me, especially not when it concerns my kids, four and two-legged ones.

Last year, I learned that Maia, my then 9 year old black lab, had Lymphoma, and had a month to live if I chose not to do anything. So, Maia and I chose to fight cancer. I almost lost her last July, when her temperature sky rocketed to 105.5 due to an allergy to antibiotics, but then she bounced back, and with the right oncologist, we made it through the six months – six long months – of chemotherapy. She is now in her 10th month of remission, but I don’t brag about it. I am so afraid to jinx it. I bought months ago a pink rubber bracelet from The National Canine Cancer Foundation and I never take it off. I am not superstitious, and I do walk under ladders, but I guess when it comes to my dogs, I am superstitious.

After Maia, came Jackson who suddenly was diagnosed with heart disease at 7 years old, and is currently doing well. Crossing fingers, toes, paws and whatever is available to cross.

Then Sammie, my little one, my fierce big dog trapped in a small body lost his fight to heart disease. You see you pick your poison: you have heart disease so you take meds which are going to screw up your kidneys. He died of kidney failure a month ago. 14 years with that little devil, and suddenly, despite of six other dogs, the house feels quiet and empty.

And then came Lola. Lola just turned 10 on May 28th, and we celebrated her birthday with roasted chickens. Have you ever met a dog who did not like roasted chickens? Me neither.


Lola, it’s a long story. I got her when she was 6 weeks old, and she drove me freaking crazy. It was not her fault. She was taken away from her Mom far too early, and had no skills, like she was on my lap, and suddenly she was peeing on me. Yeah, seriously!

But we grew up together in many ways even though I think she really considered my daughter, Jessica, like her Mom. Jessica was with me when we picked her up, and she has a special relationship with Jessica. We went together to visit Jessica in college when she chose to go to Delaware…. Lola was and still is my best buddy, the girlfriend who is always there for you. She is also my crazy girl who must have been a fish in another life.

When she was three months old, her mission in life was to retrieve every leaf from the canal when she went swimming. That was my girl. Gosh, that dog loves to swim. So, when I decided to build a swimming pool for dogs (because swimming is the best thing you can do for your dog at any stage of his/her life), I was smiling…. I thought Lola was not going to believe it that she could go swimming every day of her life if she wanted to. And the pools opened, and Lola went swimming. She is a strong swimmer and can swim non stop for a good 20 minutes. I always joked that she would drop dead before stopping…. I guess this is a lab thing….. until yesterday.



Yesterday I took her to the pool, and after 5 minutes, she just stopped, bumper still in her mouth, but trying to get her breathing back. Yesterday, I knew right away, that something was off. Last night, I spent my time on the computer googling…. lung cancer in dogs. This morning, I went to my vet, asking for the whole nine yards for Lola, because I don’t think I have ever been an ostrich in my previous lives, and I wanted to know. I knew it was bad. Walking her in the morning with her daughter Sophie, for the last few weeks, she was panting right away, and I attributed it to the heat, but…. this morning it was cool and she was still panting….

X-rays were done, and there is a mass in her lung, just one apparently…. Primary lung cancer is rare in dogs. Only 1% of dogs with cancer get that shit. Most of the time it’s secondary, meaning the cancer started somewhere else, and then spread to the lungs. It doesn’t seem to be the case, so maybe she is in the 1%. Her lymph nodes are nowhere to be seen. Call me paranoid but with Maia’s lymphoma, I check out my dogs all the time.

If it’s primary, there are options like removing the lobe, but it also means breaking her rib cage. Do you have any idea how it feels to break your rib cage? I am not sure I want to know.

I had an appointment for Maia for her regular remission check up this coming Monday with her oncologist, so I just called, and I will bring both girls this coming Wednesday instead and we will go from there.

Last time I felt that way was when we had to put our horse down. I will never ever have another horse, but it felt like being skinned alive…. That’s exactly how I feel right now. This is Lola we are talking about, my lovely, sweet girl, my tomboy during the day and love bug at night. It hurts so much than I can barely breathe. Today, I am giving today to myself to cry and cry. Tomorrow and the following days and weeks won’t be about me, but about her. But today I am selfish, and today is all about me and losing my best friend.  Tomorrow and the following weeks will be about fighting and doing the best for her, because she deserves the best. She deserves dignity. She deserves love, and she deserves respect. I love her to the moon and back and I will do what’s best for her. I can always deal with me later on. But today is the only break I am giving to myself and then, tomorrow we will start fighting.


Warm If your dog suffers a traumatic injury or his joints ache from age, you want to help them.  Warm water  healing, is increasingly becoming the option of choice for pet owners. Over the past several years, more veterinarians and owners have seen its benefits firsthand. Hydrotherapy helps pets recover from injuries and improves their quality of life.

Warm Water Healing isn’t limited to dogs recovering from surgeries or dealing with arthritis. It’s an excellent way to keep dogs fit. People whose dogs compete in athletic events turn to hydrotherapy to build their animal’s muscles to give them an extra edge.


Natural Healing

Educated consumers are looking for natural, organic, holistic products and services. A vet might prescribe medication for dogs with mild to moderate arthritis, but those drugs come with potential side effects – even the risk of death. Nothing is more natural than hydrotherapy, and its origins go back to the dawn of civilization. It’s safe and effective for dogs and their people. The only side effect is fun.


Postponing Surgery

In some cases, regular sessions of hydrotherapy can eliminate the need for surgery. For example, dogs who have not severely torn their cruciate ligaments – one of the most common canine injuries – may recover with hydrotherapy and medical management alone. A young dog who won’t use their leg while walking will in the hydrotherapy pool. Your vet will advise you whether this is a possibility for your pet. Cruciate ligament repair surgery is expensive, and many people simply can’t afford it. Hydrotherapy becomes an alternative offering a pet some relief.



While most people think of canine swimming exercise as rehabilitative and used post-surgery, it’s also helpful for dogs prior to their scheduled surgeries. If your dog can’t exercise normally because of the condition that warrants surgery, swimming exercise  can generally keep them fit. Maintaining a level of fitness prior to surgery usually means their recuperation goes more smoothly.


Proactive Therapy

It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive, and swimming exercise fills the bill. Regular sessions help your dog build muscles that ease joint pressure, which is a big plus as they get older. Dogs with strong muscle tone are less likely to develop arthritis until quite late in life, giving them years of strong mobility.


Weight Loss

If your dog has put on a few pounds, dietary adjustments and regular exercise are the best ways to get them back to a healthy weight. aquatic exercise is one of the best ways to exercise an obese dog, since it is non-weight bearing. It’s easy to overdo exercise in out-of-shape, fat dogs if walking is the primary form. That’s not true of aquatic exercise, and it will get a dog in better condition so they can eventually join you on those long walks.


Cardiovascular Fitness

Many people practice cardio fit workouts religiously, for their overall cardiovascular health and general physique. Aquatic exercise offers a cardio fit workout for dogs, aiding recuperation or just maintaining good fitness. Regular swimming sessions improve cardiovascular fitness relatively rapidly.


Aquatic Exercise Contraindications

For all its benefits, aquatic exercise is not suitable for every pet. If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease or any condition that affects their breathing, they aren’t a good aquatic exercise candidate. Your vet can answer any questions you have about your dog’s participation in swimming exercise.


K9 Aquatic Center

K9 Aquatic Center offers warm water healing, fitness and conditioning programs for dogs of all ages.  We are open every day of the week except Monday. For more information, contact us at 240-683-1100, or visit our website.





I skipped the black eye peas this year. They are really over rated in my book. I was good last year and took a full teaspoon of those things first thing on January 1st, and it was probably one of the crappiest years in my life, so I like to live dangerously, and this year I just skipped the darn thing!

2016? I used to write my goals every January, hit the gym right away like at 6:00 am on January 1st. Yes they are open. I wonder if they ever close! These days,  the gym I belong to could also be called my favorite charity! (I wonder if it could be tax deductible!) I picked the mutts over the gym. You see with my pack, I need to walk them two per two meaning that I need to do a minimum of three walks a day, here goes the gym. Right there I have at least 4 miles before my day starts.

What do I want in 2016? First of all, I want my family and my friends (four and two-legged ones) to stay healthy. I want a gentle year for everyone even my worst enemies! I don’t have any enemies! I want my K9 swimming pool to open early this year. It took the pregnancy of an elephant to have my pool become reality, but for the time being, it’s still under work. Huge hole in the floor which still needs a lot of TLC, did I mention a lot of TLC, before I could have my happy swimmers in there!

I want Maia, my sweet girl, a nine year old Labrador retriever to stay in remission from Lymphoma. 15% of the dogs stay in remission like forever, so why not my girl? She is doing well right now. Ironically, on March 30th of last year, I was signing the lease for the K9 pool store. Just before signing the lease, I dropped off two of my dogs at my vet: Maia for what I thought was an ear infection, and Sophie for what I thought was a torn cruciate, thanks to the snow which never went away that winter. The time it took me to drop off Maia and go get Sophie from my truck, hell fell on my shoulder, or should I say this is the moment where the earth stayed still. In two minutes the world changed from a happy place to a nightmarish one when my vet told me very sure of himself that Maia had lymphoma, and without any chemotherapy, she would be dead by May. I left both of my girls there while I went to sign the lease with uncontrollable tears running down my cheeks. I would have signed my death sentence that minute. My mind was focused on my girl with her beautiful and sweet golden eyes.

2015 was a year where I fought for everything. First for Maia to live. It was a very rocky road with her. I thought I was going to lose her last July. 6 months of chemotherapy every week for 6 weeks, then a break of a week, and then another six weeks, I am sure you can see the picture. What I learned from these six months, the essential part is that you have to trust the oncologist, and have a good relationship with him or her. It was not the case, and I had to change oncologist in the middle of the treatment. You see, the oncologist knew how to give those drugs but she did not know my dog like I knew her. She discarded what I was saying about Maia being so sensitive, and just shutting down because she was nauseous and not feeling well. Instead of trusting my judgement, they decided not to see the horse in front of them and look for a zebra. They were convinced that Maia has some huge cancer somewhere else and wanted to do every kind of test on her. This is where I stayed STOP. They would have killed her with all those tests. I changed place and went to a new oncologist who was wise enough to know that every dog is different and that treatments have to be adjusted.  I will write a post on my experience with chemotherapy and my girl another time, but I just wanted to show how rocky the road had been. I have not even talked about two of my other labs (mom and daughter) who got the same knee surgery for the same injury in April, and I can’t forget my little guy, my Cairn terror like a girlfriend calls him, who is in the last phase of heart disease. So, yes 2015 freaking sucked and I am extremely happy to have let it go, and have welcome instead a brand new year where everything is possible. Like Trump would have said “2015 you are FIRED! And don’t ever try to come back! Capisce?”

I want 2016 to be a long quiet river for once and not Niagara Falls.

I want the K9 Aquatic Center to open smoothly and to be able to enjoy dogs having fun in the warm water.

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do when I grow up, and I finally did. My dogs did help me a lot in the process though.

All my dogs alive or over the rainbow gently guided me towards the idea of a pool for dogs. They all contributed in the idea.

From Zeus, my heart dog, who had arthritis in his knees and all kind of pains and aches with old age, and who was just rejuvenated each time he was having a swim in warm water, to Zoe who is so stressed out by life (please don’t even ask why!) that the only way she can shake off that stress and at the same time a few pounds is by swimming, to my various dogs who had knee surgeries or injuries where swimming in warm water is the best rehab,  I would have been to be totally dumb for not figuring out at the time, that it was what I was supposed to do.

So, I know that I already have many impatient dogs ‘parents who keep asking me “when is it going to open? When?” The answer is now more precise: We are shooting (crossing fingers and paws) at the end of February, March would be the latest.

So, while waiting for the pool to open, I have to take this opportunity to wish every dog and his or her human a gentle and exciting (the good way!) 2016!

Ready? Set. Swim!



Every day, I monitor my Facebook news feed, my emails, and shares the missing or found furry kids in the DC Metro, and let me tell you, it’s quite depressing.

From Abbie, the Rottweiler who went missing or got stolen last July and was never seen again ( dozens of dogs and cats disappear every day: what are we doing wrong? How can we keep our pets safe?

There is nothing worse than not knowing what had happened to your furry kid. Some thirty years ago, I left my dog, a Brittany spaniel to my mother while I was going away for a week. Her name was Julie. There was a very famous song in France “Julie the redhead”, and Julie, my dog, had the cutest freckles on her nose.

When I came back, my mother told me that Julie had escaped and disappeared. I was heartbroken, I spent my time putting flyers, checking the equivalent of Humane Society since I was living in France, and Julie was never seen again. For years, I wondered what had happened, if she has been rescued by a family, sold to a laboratory, abused, hurt? For years, I was wondering if I will ever see her again.

Not long ago, my mother casually mentioned Julie and how she was hit by a car and killed. My mother is not an animal person, and in her mind, she was doing me a favor by not saying anything, and giving me hope. Hope it was not. Nightmare would have been a more appropriate word. I finally had closure after so long.

So what should we do to keep them safe?

1. A Safe Yard? There is no such thing.

I still remember when the mutts were maybe 4/5 months old, they were outside in the backyard, and I was in the house. One of them, Sophie, Ms. Smarty Pants to name her, figured out how to open the latch, and suddenly I saw through the window five straight little tails going all around the front yard to the driveway, to the neighbor’s next door. I was lucky: I was home, I noticed them running around, and Jessica, my daughter was home, and we managed to get them back home safe.

I learned something that day:


Needless to say I put padlocks on the gate, but still.

  • Keep an eye on your furry kid(s) when they are outside.
  • If you have a gate or two gates, put padlocks on them
  • Do not leave your furry kid in the yard if you are leaving the house.
  • Even if your yard is safe, there could be a storm, and a tree can fall down and break the fence (It happened to one of my neighbors: her lab was in the yard when a tree fell down, and she never saw her dog again).
  • Check your yard on a regular basis for any digging or broken fence. Not long ago, Ms. Sophie – again – dug a hole against the fence. You should have seen her face when, the next day, she went straight to it, and the hole was gone with a few improvements on top of it.
  •  Invisible fence? Would you leave your kid outside with a collar around her or his neck? Invisible fence might be good for the eyes but it doesn’t prevent anyone to come to steal your dog or another dog that is not invisible fence savvy to attack yours.

2. Microchip

Microchipping your dog is good in the overall. If someone steals your dog though, the microchip might not be of a big help.

3. Collar and Leash


I am totally paranoid about that one. It happened to me with a retractable leash which broke when Maia saw a squirrel on a trail. I stayed with the handle of the leash, and a dog running around. Fortunately for me, Maia is obedient, and came back. The return was not fun, holding her collar. I am not using that kind of leashes anymore since there is not really a way to prevent it. I know that I could have returned the leash, and would have got a new one. But honestly, would I really care for a new leash if my dog had died out of it? I don’t think so. So, extendable leashes are banned forever from my home.


I usually use a choke collar to walk most of them. They are pretty good, but I now make sure that every link is properly “linked” to the next one. Again, I was lucky, but it happened to Jackson in a pet store, and let me tell you, Jack had the time of his life. He managed to swallow for over $ 40.00 of treats before we could get hold of him. That’s my boy!

Regular fabric collars should be checked on a regular basis as well. The fabric can start to “give away”, and you certainly don’t want to stay empty handed with a dog running around in the traffic.

Pepper spray:

I always carry pepper spray with me attached to my belt. I told you, I am totally paranoid! But you know what? If an unwelcome or aggressive dog comes towards us, or if a nut (and there are many around) try to steal my dog (honestly he would have to be on crack!) then my pepper spray makes me feel safer!

Call me paranoid but better being safe than sorry. Every poster for a missing furry kid or every post on the net for lost pets just breaks my heart. Let’s keep them safe!

This morning, I went to my vet to pick up something, and I saw that beautiful older Golden retriever lose, at the door, waiting for his mom or dad. I came in, and he came straight to me. Older dogs look so wise. He had a big bandage on his leg. I scratched his ears, and you know Goldens, they are such gentle souls.

He went back by the door, waiting, and I learned that he was dropped off to be put to sleep. He had cancer, and I am not discussing the fact that it might have been his time to go. To go? Yes, but alone? No matter how caring and gentle the vet and the vet techs are, he wanted his mom to be there. He got a last cookie, and was lead to the exam room while he was trying to go to the opposite direction. You know what? It just broke my heart. For the last page of his life, he had to be alone, so no, he was not a furever kid.

People suck, and I went home and hugged my pack, telling them, that yes, they were my forever kids. It’s never easy to say goodbye, I know that but there are indeed our kids, and they trust us with their lives. How could anyone abandon one for the last page of his life?

His face haunted me for the remaining of the day, so, I do think he deserves a tribute. Gentle soul leaving this earth alone.

A lot of people have a tendency to make some alterations to the meaning: forever.

Curious, I looked into the dictionary:

Forever: for all time in the future, or for as long as you can imagine. So I guess that Gentledog owner did not read the memo.

Please do not take a furry kid, if you cannot be there for him or her until the last minute.

Hey, if you decide to make a baby, most likely, you know that it is for life. Being a parent never stops, and no matter what, I will still worry about my girls even if they are in their 60’s and if I am still around. Parents are there to protect them, to be there in time of needs, to be there when then need you.

It should be like a quiz and if you can’t say yes to all the statements, then please do not adopt a furry kid. You are not ready. Maybe one day, you will be but not now.

A furever kid is not:

  • Until you get a boyfriend or a girlfriend,
  • Because you need someone to love you until better,
  • Until you have your own kids,
  • For Xmas, Hanukah, Winter solstice, birthday or any other holiday,
  • A gift.

How many times in your life can you say you get from someone unconditional love?

There are no good excuses not to go forever, and I have to acknowledge that I am sick and tired of hearing:

  • Getting a divorce,
  • The place where I am moving doesn’t accept dogs (yeah, so? Find a place which takes dogs!)
  • My boyfriend or girlfriend is allergic….

This is a lifetime contract that you are taking, and no way out. If you can’t sign that contract, please do not take an animal. It’s just not fair.

I know that “until death do us part” is not really working anymore in humans, but we are talking furry kids here, and furry kids are FOREVER!

When you are a parent, for a kid, a dog, a cat, or any living being, you stay with them until the last minute, because you see, they trust you, you are the “fixer” for them, and it just means that when it’s time for your dog – as an example – to go, even if it’s painful, even if you are going to cry your heart out, you still go to that darn room with your dog, and you stay with him until his last breath, because that’s what you do when you love someone!

I just thought that that gentle Golden needed to have his last words heard before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and it was: “where are you? I am scared? Where are you?”

I do have first to start with that statement: I do not litter. I pick up litter, and I cannot stand people who do litter.

Now that it’s out of the way, there are a few things which creep me out: Switzerland, Naples in Florida, and one of my girlfriend’s townhouse! Why would you tell me? I cannot stand perfection, and yes perfection creeps me out. In Switzerland – my mother was at one point married to a Swiss guy! – Sometimes, just sometimes, and it’s just a wicked thought but I just would love to drop something on the sidewalk to make it alive and just alter the perfection. Naples in Florida is the same way, and I am not even talking about my girlfriend’s townhouse which is the essence of perfection. Even her cats seem coming from Stepford: the perfect cats enjoying being the perfect cats in a place with throw blankets are neatly folded on immaculate armchairs – she must have got the only two cats in this world that don’t shed! – Sweet little doily just in the exact middle of the coffee table with fragile tiny flowers which would not survive in my home for 5 minutes.

Now why these tiny flowers would not have survived at my home? My cats would have knocked them down in a second, and if they had not, then my pack of dogs galloping through the house would have done it. I almost have to hold on to my 3 foot vase when they display their wild side!

This is also the reason, my girlfriend, who might just be more like an acquaintance now that I think about it, never comes to my house. We meet in neutral grounds. The last time she came for dinner, she had that look on her face staring at my dogs thinking so loud: these dogs are so vile! One time, I wanted to scare her, and told her that if I die before the mutts, I named her in my will as the dog’s guardian, and she looked at me with horror, and then said softly: NO! Sorry I do have sometime a wicked sense of humor!

OK, I am letting go of perfection to get where I wanted to go: my house! Years ago, I had children and at one point, I think I was still dreaming of a perfect house (meaning furniture, since the dad was already out of the picture and I was not looking to fill up the position!), and one day I took a hard look at myself, yes I do sometimes! What did really matter? A perfect polished house or spending special time with my girls? I chose that path, and never looked back!

The girls grew up, and now I share my house with my 7 dogs and my 3 cats. I am not talking about the fish in the fish tank! I got the fish tank to entertain my cats, but they got tired really fast of it, especially after Charlie fell into the tank a few times trying to learn how to swim! So I am stuck with 5 fish, included a crazy one which only swims upside down. I cannot even look at it, it makes me dizzy. When I have some friends over, they make comments like “Weird, a fish tank without fish!” I have to explain – as I type this, I wonder if I should not staple a “fish tank explanation”. I have 5 fish left, and I am not a mean person, so I am waiting for them to die of natural causes, then I will put the fish tank to give away in Zeuscorner classified ads! The problem with my fish is that THEY DON’T WANT TO DIE! I have been living with them for 6 years and they still seem pretty feisty to me. The fish tank guy told me five years max! Yeah? Really, not mine!


I just got lost in the fish tank thing. At least I don’t have a snapping turtle like another girlfriend of mine that she kept for a good 30 years in a fish tank until her ex-husband (the girlfriend’s one not the turtle’s) got tired of it, and put it back in the wild.

So, yes, I do live with dogs and cats. We are just a regular American family! My cats are not the type who can walk between chess pieces on a chessboard. To even go further, not only they cannot walk on it without knocking everything down, but I even lost the Black King! It went MIA a few years ago, and never came back! But I do have regular cats: Caramel who is doing much better now that he is on Prozac, Charlie a sweetheart, and Milou a devilish cat obsessed with my mutts ’tails. He can hide forever on a dining room chair, little paw in the air to grab a passing happy tail!

And then: the plat de resistance: my mutts! Opposite to the kids, they do not clean up after them. They don’t understand the notion of putting their toys back in the toys basket, but they do understand the concept of emptying my paper recycling can! I don’t know what they expect to find in it, but maybe it’s their best game: let’s go see what Mom put in the paper recycling can! At least, it makes a bit more sense that what my ex-partner for a business was doing these last few months: going through my recycling trash can at the curb. He did it several times, and I still can’t figure out why: first, I shred anything of any value, so maybe he is into puzzles, and then even if he had found something, I don’t think he ever got the fact that I don’t own any truth, I work hard at what I do.

To go back to the mutts, another difference from children is that they SHED. No matter how often I brush them: they shed, and shed, and shed, except Sammie my little one like it’s going to make a difference! So, every day, I sweep the floor, and if people were seeing how much hair and dust I get each time, they would believe that I almost never clean the house. I do, I do! Every single day. But hold your horses there: I sweep the floor, and clean up the surfaces but don’t even think that I am going to clean up every day the dogs’ nose art on my windows. It’s precious! I used to put drawings from my girls on the fridge door, now I am displaying the mutts’ nose art on my glass door!

So, yes, I live in a house full of dogs, cats, and life and I can assure you there is never a dull moment! The dull moments were when I was living with my ex-husband! In every aspect of life, we have to make concessions, and I learned to do that a long time ago, so my house is not perfect, but you know what I like it even better that way!

If you come for dinner, you might find some dog’s hair stuck to your clothes if you sit on the couch, but hey they live there. You are just visiting! And it’s THEIR couch! I might even add that sometimes, just sometimes, you might even find a dog’s hair in a dish I prepared, but hey what the heck, it’s proteins!

In conclusion, I really don’t judge how anyone lives. I can make fun of them, but I do make fun of myself as well, so I guess it does mean that we are even! If you come to my house, yes, you could see chaos, and some dog toys on the floor and even some remains of toys, especially if you come just after the mutts ‘meals: Sophie, one of my yellow lab has to kill a stuffed toy before she can ever eat! But what you will also find is love! They will give you kisses for all the days where you haven’t been to Muttstown, and they will even allow you to enjoy the dinner, and I am a good cook, dog’s hair or not dog’s hair!

trustHey, I was a single mom since my girls were toddlers, and could never make myself trust anyone with the girls. They are now grown up amazing women, so I must have done something right there.

Without being paranoid, I even have a hard time trusting someone to dog sit. I remember years ago, I was going with my daughters to some Caribbean islands for Spring Break, and had hired someone to take care of Douchka, our German shepherd. The lady came to the house, met with me, and Douchka. She was working for a pet sitting company and I had checked the references, so everything was good, right?

I did not even have time to drop my suitcase in our hotel room in Grand Cayman that the phone rang. It was my dog sitter asking me what to do. She opened the front door, and Douchka ran away.

“Did not I explain to you lady that you should enter by the garage, close the garage door, and then enter the house?”

“Yes, yes, but I was in a rush…. What do you want me to do?”


Thank God, Douchka was much smarter that the dog sitter, and after causing us such a fright (like a message to me, that will serve you to leave me behind!), she came back, and was waiting at the front door when the dog sitter came back.

Douchka was a funny one. Each time we were coming back from a trip, she was greeting me like crazy, then was stopping talking to me for a few days, I mean, totally ignoring me!

I had a very good friend who used to dog sit my pack: a friend, a vet tech, and loving my crew, but she passed a few years ago, and since then, I have to acknowledge that I stopped taking any kind of vacation. If one day I start again, I might just do like Sandra Bullock, and buy a bus to get my whole crew packed in! I have only 7. She has 13!

I do have a girlfriend who does dog sitting at her place, but here too, I would not trust her. You see, she doesn’t follow directions. She does believe that she knows better that the dog parent what the dog needs. She walks dogs off leash in the woods surrounding her house even if you are adamant about the leash thing. She is lucky: up to now, all the dogs who ran away came back, but here too, it’s an accident meant to happen.

So, I just scratched from my list the dog sitter thingy! What about boyfriend? You see in the news those horrific stories about boyfriends killing girlfriends’ dogs or hurting them.

I scratched the living boyfriend from my list years ago. My girls were teenagers at that time, and he had a dog, a Labrador retriever, the one who made me become a lab addict. So everything was good, right? At that time, I had Douchka, my shepherd and Pouch, a Golden retriever. Douchka was already around 8 or 9 at that time.

And we lived together. Every evening, Douchka was the only one waiting for me when I was coming back from work, no matter how late it was. She was my girl. She was also my daughters’ babysitter, best one ever. She was so protective of them, and got so frustrated when the girls got older and started to ride their bikes!

With old age came aches and pains in Douchka’s life. She had arthritis in her hips, in her knees. Yes, medications helped up to a point. It just breaks my heart when they start to slow down.

In December of that year, Douchka was treated for a kidney infection. She had some blood in her urine. Despite of the antibiotics, there was still blood, and she was prescribed another type of antibiotics. One day, Jessica came to me and told me Douchka peed a few drops of urine with blood in her bedroom deliberately. This was not my dog, and this episode broke my heart. Did she think I was to thick to understand that something was going on?

Within an hour, I was at the vet, and X-rays showed a growth in her bladder. The next day, she had an ultrasound showing a tumor, and by that time she could not urinate because of that tumor. I still remember her face after the ultrasound: she knew. She looked at me and I saw in her eyes that she wanted to go.

I went back home, got my two daughters and we went to our vet, the three of us like always. The boyfriend asked if he could come, and I said no. He seemed relieved.

Letting her go was also for my daughters letting go of their childhood. It was a whole era that we let go with her, and a friend. Douchka was my most devoted friend. She was always there, and yes I took her for granted.

Coming home empty handed, boyfriend was roaming around me, and finally confessed that he was feeling a “bit guilty” for having kicked her so many times. Tears were uncontrollable at that time. 15 years later, it still just hurts imagining her, my sweet and devoted girl, being kicked by that man, and being a silent victim when she was already with so many aches.

Why did he kick her? The only explanation I can think of was jealousy. Douchka would have given her life for me and the girls, and I mean it. She never, ever did anything wrong in her life. I cannot remember him interacting much with her but he loved dogs, labs.

This is the day I scratched “boyfriend” from my bucket list.

So, yes, surrounded by my pack, I am not sure of many things these days, but I know that I will grow old surrounded by dogs, because you see, they are your best friends in good and bad times. Unconditional love…. You can’t find that in humans.

maxIt’s hard to be part of a litter, you know. How do you make yourself different, special? Max did that from the beginning! Lola, my yellow Labrador retriever, was pregnant, and since it was my first and was my only litter, I was so totally paranoid with anything which could go wrong. As paranoid as I was when I was pregnant with my girls!

I was not supposed to welcome that litter alone. One of my good friends, Liz, had told me that she was going to be there to help…. But Liz died suddenly, and left me alone to deal with my pups! I don’t know how long it took me, after Liz’ passing, to stop grabbing my phone without thinking to call her.

Anyway, I knew the pups were coming after Lola started nesting one night, and drove me totally berserk. Hey girl, I had got you that beautiful whelping box. Could you stop roaming around like a lunatic? In the morning, my daughter and I took her to the vet, and after an ultra sound, we learned that we were going to welcome into this world five puppies. So, we were ready. Max was not.

When the first four were born within 3 hours, Max decided that he wanted to have a different birthday than his siblings. He made us wait over 3 hours after Sophie before deciding to grant us with his presence! He was lucky we were still up (kind of….) I remember napping with my daughters on the floor waiting for the 5th wonder to be born.

Max was the runt of the litter. Yes, yes, he was small but as perfect as the others. Like a Mom, I counted everything I could count on my five wonders. Perfect. Instantly we gave them nicknames: George, the first one, was “Big Mouth” because he started whining right away, then came Zoe who was “Blondie”. She was so blonde, always have been and Zoe is the one who still has so many blonde moments! Then came his Majesty Jackson, the biggest one, and he became “Boubou” (don’t ask why!) followed by my tomboy, Sophie, who immediately was nicknamed “Miss Piggy”. Gosh she went straight to the teats and could not let go…. So after all that commotion came our Max, and his nickname became “Baby.”

Keep in mind that I had bred Lola, at the request of several friends who wanted a puppy from her. My Lola is the perfect Lab: as comfortable in the water than on the ground, she would have been a perfect “search and rescue dog”, and I tried, but sorry guys, it was too far to go for training every weekend at dawn and not coming back until late at night. But I always thought she would have been amazing. But this blog is not about her, it’s about Max.

Max’s Dad is a Field Champion from Illinois, Honor. I fell in love with Honor without ever meeting him but what was not to love about this boy? Honor is black, and has the best sense of humor ever. You see, this is exactly why I love labs so much. They are the only dogs who have a sense of humor! Don’t start yelling at me. I love all dogs, mutts or no mutts, but labs….. There is something special about them, and I will spend the remaining of my life surrounded by them.

From the beginning, Max loved classical music. When I was letting them out of the whelping box, Max was always the one to go to take a nap by the radio tuned to the classical music channel. I tried to make him appreciate opera, but I am not sure he will ever be a fan of it. From his birth, Max – and his siblings – were raised with Vivaldi, Chopin, Brahms and the others…..

I forgot to mention that Max was black like his Dad, FC Honor. Funny thing, the three boys were black like their Dad, and the two girls are yellow like their Mom.

When they started growing up, and gosh it went so fast. One day you could have the five of them of your lap, the next month, you needed the help of the couch to contain them!

Max has always been the one who observes. He doesn’t say much sometime but you know he knows. For instance, when we moved from the whelping box to the playpen, they had time out to play before going to bed at night, and Max was always trying to grab that opportunity to sleep “outside the box”. When he knew it was time to go back to the playpen, every single time, he was jumping on the couch and faking sleep. Faking sleep? Yes, Max could not fool me, I mean, he did a few times. But after the others were tucked for the night, I was turning to him, and I can tell you that so many times, he was lightly opening an eye to see if he were going to be able to spend the night on the comfy couch or going back with his siblings! That’s my Max!

Life was not always perfect. There was the day where it was obvious that Max was not feeling well. It was a Saturday night of course when every vet was closed. That’s one thing, my pack never learned. They never read the memo saying “no emergency on weekends”. Jessica and I took him to the closest emergency. A young vet was there. She took X-rays, and came back with “the face” saying that Max had pneumonia and it might be wise to just let him go. Her words and I am not kidding: “He is so young, has so little chance to survive. Do you really want to spend so much money on him?”

Yes, bitch! I do. As a matter of fact, I had called another emergency, and took Max away from her care to run to the other facility. In reality, Max did not have any pneumonia, and he did not need any oxygen either (as the previous vet had told us). Max had a tummy ache, and after spending the night at the emergency and being monitored, we were able to pick him up the next morning. Thank God, because Lola was so upset not having her fifth kid that I thought she was going to destroy the house!

And my “mutts” (as I said as a nickname even though they are pure labs) grew up, it became obvious soon that the friends who had bugged me to get a pup from Lola went all MIA, and it was as obvious that they were not going anywhere. My brain was not programmed that way and I just could not let them go and never hear ever again from them. I could not risk them to be abused, sick, sad, and I just could not break the bond that existed between them. So, I got a pack. Yes, it’s the only time it will ever happen. They are all spayed, neutered, etc…. but this is also one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed.

Max, being the smallest one, has always been a bit bullied by his sister Sophie. From the beginning, when they were playing in the yard, Sophie loved to jump on Max and grab him by his neck. Sophie loved it, Max did not. Max decided he did not want to go out anymore if Sophie was around, which caused a few accidents in the house. I had to go with him, and stay next to him. He is the dog who pees on command! I say “pee” and he pees just because he doesn’t want to lose any time just in case Sophie could come!

Five years later, Sophie and Max have still a thing together, but Max is fast, and yes, he can come back totally dusty, but that’s one thing about Max. From the beginning, he loves the dust, not the mud. Hear me clear, here! Dust is his best friend. Mud is yuck!

The first two or three years of their lives, Max was having a tantrum each time I was leaving the house. When I was going to the garage, Max was screaming to go with me “Mom, don’t leave me with those monsters, Mommmmmm!” Of course, Sophie is always trying to help, so each time he had a tantrum, she was holding his tail to help, you know, and prevent him to go to the garage with me. Sophie is such a good helper!

There is one thing though where Max doesn’t accept, and I mean it, no exceptions there, to be bullied: his food! No one can even try to get next to his food, Sophie or Jackson probably tried once or twice (don’t worry, I would not have left that happen!) but Max is all teeth out if you try to eat his food. He has a special bowl in ceramics, and no, it’s his bowl, and he will not consider eating in a metal bowl! I have no clue how it started but it’s his bowl, end of the story.

They are now five years old, can you imagine? And there is one thing, I cannot imagine: Max getting old. I can’t. You see, he has always been the baby, and will stay the baby forever. Max getting white hair? This is just impossible; it’s the baby of the family!

Max was the easiest one to train. I don’t even have to say words. The two of us, we are really good with hand signs. I tell him to sit, to stay, and he doesn’t move. Max has a flaw, I know, I know, he believes he is the perfect little lab (60 lbs. against the 80s of his other siblings!), but he has one flaw: he doesn’t like other dogs, and growls, and Max’s growling is so cute even though he means business. You have to understand Max’ view of the world: he has been bullied by his sister mostly since he was born, so he just wants to let every unknown dog know that it won’t happen with anyone else! Sophie, it’s family, and no matter what, you have to get over it! It’s family! But others beware!

I am looking at my Max right now. Years ago, we all thought he looked a bit like “Andre”, you know the seal movie? And this is still true, but looking at the eyes of my boy, I melt. Baby you are, baby you will be for the rest of your life!