Category Archives: Travel

Putting Your Dog in a Pooch Pouch

Outward Hound Pooch Pounc

Have you ever put your dog in a pooch pouch?

I used to carry Scooby in over-the-shoulder, purse-style carriers.

We did that to the point that he still sometimes tries to hop in purses left open on the floor.

Over the past few years, though, Scooby has mostly traveled on leash or under my arm.

However, in the span of one recent week, he received two of the same Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo carriers from friends.

I call them pooch pouches because they are backpacks you wear in the front, and your dog sticks out of the little pouch.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo pooch pouch navy

The Pet-a-Roos we got are identical except in color.

One is black, one is blue.

I’m not an ace at adjusting straps on products like this, so I waited to try out the pouches until Zach was home and could properly fit them to me. There are a lot of straps.

You have two adjustable shoulder straps, plus one strap that threads through those and goes around your waist. There is also an optional strap you can clip to your dog’s collar or harness.

Other than that, the only way to secure him into the pouch is by tightening the mesh top of the pouch – you just pull the strings and tighten like you would a cinch style bag.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo

Note to self: Don’t wear a shirt with a drape-y neck during a pooch pouch photo session.

The idea is for these pooch pouches to make the person able to have their little pet close without tying up your hands.

While I wouldn’t put enough faith in that cinch-to-secure mechanism to actually bend over without a hand on Scooby, I can see how the Pet-a-Roo would make walks with Scooby more ergonomic for me once he hits the point of tired feet.

From his perspective, though, I think the Pet-a-Roo could have an ergonomic improvement.

The base of the bag, on which the dog perches is not as wide as my body. It makes a great seating pad, but the design does not allow for a dog Scooby’s size to lay down.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo

From experience with an improvised knap sack-turned-pooch pouch, I know that while Scooby enjoys sniffing the air (and seeing as much as his cataract-filled eyes will permit), there comes a time on every walk, when he would rather duck down and snooze. This is especially true in cold weather.

With that said, my evaluation of the Pet-a-Roo is this. It’s a novel item that I would consider taking on warm weather walks with KC Pittie Pack, as an alternative to holding Scooby under my arm when he wears out. In these cases, the Pet-a-Roo would actually be far preferable to his wool knapsack. Also, the front-carry design is more comfortable for me than over-the-shoulder messenger-style pet carrier.

Big thanks to my friends Kathy and Heather who gave us the Pet-a-Roos!

Now, if I can figure out how to convert one into a secure doggy seat for the car, we will really be in business!

How do you carry your pet around when he or she doesn’t walk?

If you haven’t already, go enter my #DiamondNaturals grain-free kibble giveaway!


Non-Stop Awesome Weekend

Burning the candle at both ends and overstuffing my calendar is just how I roll.

Between a full-time job, running my own business, doting on my dogs, blogging and an active social calendar, I don’t allow myself much down time.

But even by my standards, this past weekend was insane – in a good way.

5 Things I Did Last Weekend

minus the bear

1. Saw one of my all-time favorite bands play – because of my dog.

It helps to know people with power – and pooches with influence. My common-law sister-in-law Bethany scored us free entry to a Minus the Bear concert in Lawrence, Kansas, after name-dropping Scooby the elderpin.


That’s right. My dog is a rock star.

How this happened: Throughout his career of being awesome, Scooby has reported for regular duty at a variety of businesses. As luck would have it, the lord of the tickets at the Granada Theater once worked with the elderpin at a screen printing shop.

Speaking of business, my weekend also included…

2. Launching my Beer Paws products into a new retail location.

Christine Gregory Queen of Paws

Queen of Paws Boutique & Spa, an adorable little business operated by my friend Christine Gregory in Prairie Village, Kansas, now carries Beer Paws. A portion of every Beer Paws sale made at Queen of Paws will be donated to Bark N Blues, one of Christine’s favorite local animal welfare organizations.

I got the Beer Paws to Christine’s shop just in time for her 1st anniversary celebration. I am so proud of this lady for following her dream and working so hard to make it a success!


Unfortunately, I could not attend the party because my weekend was so chock full with other activities like:

3. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. for Strutt with Your Mutt.

strutt with mutt

Last year, I actually ran the 5K at this benefit for Wayside Waifs. This year, I chugged coffee in the vendors’ area (aka the “flealess market”).

Of course, I was there repping Beer Paws. Like at several local pet events recently, I was able to set up shop with Kennel Creek Pet Resort.

reilly and willow

As usual, owner Chris Sailors’ sweet dogs Reilly and Willow attracted a crowd, and together we introduced a lot of new people to our businesses.

As soon as Strutt ended, I had to skedaddle for another very important event…

4. The wedding of former foster dog Minnie‘s forever family.

Minnie wedding

The nuptials were held at the home of the bride’s mom and stepdad, in a small town outside of Jefferson City, Missouri. The setting was as beautiful as the bride and the drive so pleasant I didn’t mind that it took 2.5 hours.

I was ecstatic to be on the very short guestlist for this intimate gathering. I even had a special role to play – helping Minnie perform her role! The pretty little husky mix was the ringbearer!

I should have booked a hotel that night and saved myself some driving. The next day was also spent in this general part of Missouri…

5. Touring the ranch where the Budweiser clydesdales live.

hope clydesdale

On Sunday I got up super early again to hit the road with my family for a special daytrip celebrating my aunt getting through her radiation treatments for breast cancer and also my mom’s upcoming birthday.

Did you know that those big, beautiful horses synonymous with Budweiser beer are bred right here in Missouri? That’s right – they are raised at Warm Springs Ranch outside Boonville. My mom has been crowing about this place for a couple years now, and I have to say she was right. There’s just nothing like getting nuzzled by a 2,000-pound gentle giant.

clydesdale with sandy

How was your weekend?


Raising Money, Raising Glasses and Other Things I Did in Nebraska

I just spent four action-packed days in my home state.

I’ll be writing in more detail throughout the week about some of the things I experienced. For now, here’s a teaser.

10 Things I Did in Nebraska Last Weekend

1. Helped raise nearly $1,000 for my hometown animal shelter.

Beatrice Humane Society

2. Drank local beer.

Zipline Beer Lincoln, Nebrasak

3. Drank some excellent, apple-y homebrew.

apple peeler homebrew

4. Drank cucumber lemonade.

cucumber lemonade

5. Drank a taster portion of the most amazing carrot soup ever.

carrot soup with chutney

6. Watched a baby kitty being bottle fed.

bottle feeding baby kitten

7. Got a henna tattoo.

henna tattoo in carrot shape

8. Handed out free beer biscuits to dogs at the farmers’ market.

papillion with beer biscuits

9. Celebrated a six-year-old’s birthday.

child birthday cake

10. Met a leopard gecko named Zark. (Check out my videos of him on Instagram.)

leopard gecko molting

Come back tomorrow to learn which of these things happened at a restaurant named for a dog!

Traveling with Pets – An Infographic

I wish I had a vacation planned for the end of summer.

hawaiian scooby

A real vacation, with beach time, tropical drinks and limited internet connectivity.

There’s nothing like that on my calendar right now, but I do have a roadtrip planned for the weekend of August 15.

I’m packing up for my hometown of Beatrice, Nebraska, to host a Beer Paws party and fundraiser for the local humane society. Then, I’ll head to my college town of Lincoln for some cousin time.

I don’t intend to take Luke or Scooby with me this time, but if I was planning a road trip with doggies, the infographic below from PetSafe would provide a good refresher on what to pack. Everybody loves infographics.

Leave your best tip for traveling with pets in the comments!

Related posts:

Wayward on Water: What Happened to this Boat?

Somewhere in the waters between New Zealand and Australia, this boat is lost.

1928 schooner

The historic 1928 American schooner called Nina departed on May 29, en route from Opua to Newcastle. The journey was estimated to take a minimum of 12 days.

No communication has been received from the boat – or any of its seven passengers – since June 4. On that day, one of the crew members sent out a text message during a storm, although the boat has never called out for help, nor has its emergency beacon been activated.

Search and rescue missions have scoured hundreds of thousands of miles of water over the past few days but so far found nothing.

The Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand has “grave concerns,” but friends and family of the crew are hopeful.

My cousin Kyle is on that boat.

crystal n kyle

Kyle is one of the cousins I have been getting to know more as an adult than I did as a child. He is handsome, fearless and so much fun. He lives for adventure, and his curiosity has taken him all over the world.

The family hopes the current adventure ends soon, with Kyle safe and sound and back to tell us all one hell of a story.

Another rescue mission is happening today, a joint effort by both Australian and New Zealand officials.

Kyle’s sister, my cousin Megan, is keeping family and friends informed on the blog Universe to KBJ.

If you are in the part of the world where my cousin is lost, please keep an ear out for local reports that you can share. Comment on this post or tweet me.

How I Spent My Spring Break Staycation

Today, I clock back in at the office after a whole week off.


As much as I love my colleagues and enjoy my job, leaving Zach and the dogs at home is going to be extra hard this morning.

Our first “vacation” of 2013 did not involve a plane ride to the Pacific Northwest or even a bike ride through Missouri’s wine country.

But the time spent together, in our own city and with our beloved dogs was pretty amazing.


Staycation 2013 highlights:

1. Replenishing our supply of homemade, non-toxic household products, including DIY laundry detergent, dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent and citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner.

2. Warming ourselves by the fire of tree branches and twigs that fell down during Kansas City’s recent big, bad snowstorms.

3. Taking time to explore Red X, a big store in Riverside, Missouri, that is part hardware store, part grocery store, part liquor store and part purveyor of antiques and weird animal statues.


4. Having Zach’s sister and brothers over for dinner and taking an extra plate to our neighbor, who brought us a lovely bouquet of flowers to say thanks.

5. Challenging one another to consume the super hot sauce and dried pepper flakes that Bethany brought us from her trip to the Philippines.

6. Going to a movie – Oz the Great and Powerful – on a weeknight.

7. Getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit over Irish eats and a Bloody Molly drink at neighborhood dive bar Swagger.

Have you ever stayed home for your vacation? What did you do?

Frida Kahlo: A Wayward Woman and Her Little Dog

In 1938, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo painted herself and one of her dogs.


A reproduction of that painting – “Itzcuintli Dog With Me” – hangs on the wall of my house.

It’s a souvenir from our vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, exactly two years ago.

Our strolls around the city were full of Frida imagery.

We even ate at a restaurant El Repollo Rojo (The Red Cabbage) that served foods Frida Kahlo used to make for guests at her own extravagant parties.

El Repollo Rojo Puerto Vallarta cafe

El Repollo Rojo is decorated with images of Frida Kahlo and her art.

Frida Kahlo has always been a favorite artist of mine.

I will never forget hearing her story for the first time, on movie day in my high school Spanish class. The students around me were all screwing off, but I could not tear my eyes from the screen and the tale of an extraordinary and rather wayward woman who lived, loved and worked passionately, for herself and for her people.

During her life, Frida Kahlo’s heart and her body were both broken, but her spirit never was.

Along with food, high art and fellow artist Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo loved animals.

AnOther magazine has a great slideshow of Frida with her many pets, including xoloitzcuintli dogs like the one in the picture I own.

Itzcuintli Dog With Me detail image

This is not a Chihuahua

Itzcuintli is the Aztec word for day, and its sign is the dog.

Itzcuintli Aztec daysign

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In ancient Mesoamerica, dogs were sometimes buried with humans, presumably to help guide the souls on their journey.

Frida Kahlo’s typically dark work often includes ancient symbolism. She suffered most of her life from compromised health, so it makes sense to me on many levels that this Mexican breed would appear in her self-portrait.

Modern xoloitzcuintli dogs are sometimes used as therapy dogs for people with chronic pain.

I wonder if they helped Frida.

Are you a fan of Frida Kahlo? Who is your favorite artist?

If you don’t know much about Frida, I urge you to watch the 2002 movie about her starring Salma Hayek.

For more about Frida Kahlo, check out related posts by InkPaperPen and Dear Kitty.

Remembering Holidays in Paradise

stray dog in Hawaii

A wayward dog in paradise.

Believe it or not, my favorite holiday memories have nothing to do with dogs.

In fact, these moments occurred in a tropical paradise where visiting dogs are required to undergo a lengthy quarantine before they are free to run on the beach with their people.

My favorite holiday memories happened during my childhood, in Hawaii. My family was incredibly lucky that my mother worked as a travel agent. She could lock in on good deals early and take advantage of some professional discounts so that we could hop a plane to heaven at least once a year.

Often, this escape coincided with Thanksgiving or Christmas and New Year’s. Because I didn’t grow up in a house with brothers or sisters, several times I was permitted to invite a friend or my cousin along for the beachcombing, hiking and “hanging loose.”

The vibe in my family wasn’t perfect in those days long before my parents’ divorce. But I will always cherish those family vacations as some of the happiest moments – and the most mele kalikimakas – of my childhood.

Who could have a bad time in a place like this, anyway?


Maui, 2008

The pictures above come from a more recent trip, when I was the guest of my best friend Kenton‘s family on an excursion to Maui. Somewhere, there is a little tape full of video footage of that vacation, too, which includes the first time I ever saw whales in Hawaii.

Spread between my parents’ homes are also boxes and boxes of photographs from those earlier trips, plus clunky VHS tapes of preteen me shakin’ my thang in a grass skirt at a luau and, I’m pretty sure, clips of my oldest bestie Stacy and me on stage at a concert by the world’s youngest Elvis impersonator (aka the young Bruno Mars).

Having all of my Hawaiian memory footage collected in one place sure would be nice.

Fortunately, technology is making that easier.


This post is sponsored by YesVideo, a service that specializes in transferring photos, videos and almost any type of media, including VHS, to DVD.


Once you have everything together that you want YesVideo to transfer, you can either mail it straight to the company or drop your media off at four major retailers, including the photo counter at Sam’s Club.

Sadly, the deadline has passed to receive a DVD by Christmas this year, but this kind of commemorative gift would be ideal for any family holiday or birthday.

To learn more about YesVideo, check out these links:

YesVideo website

@yesvideo on Twitter

YesVideo on Facebook


What’s your favorite holiday memory that you’d like to preserve on video?

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Whirlwind Nebraska weekend

Sometimes getting out of town without the dogs is exactly what I need.

Especially when I know there will be plenty of cute animals and cool people where I’m headed.

Stop 1: Lincoln

Megan and Crystal

Grinning cousins.

That’s Megan, one of my second cousins on the Wiebe side. When I said I was coming to Nebraska for a  recent weekend, she and her partner Claire kindly allowed me to crash at their Lincoln apartment.

I first stopped for a dinner of homemade noodles and sauce with my best friend Kenton at his mom’s house.

The kitten Megan and Claire recently rescued from a tree welcomed Kenton and me when we arrived at their door.

Megan's kitten

“Mew are you?”

Sadly, I captured no photos of my other cousin Kyle – Megan’s brother – slaying the karaoke crowd later that night at the Ding A Ling Bar in Raymond, Nebraska. (He’s a braver soul than me. I stay far away from karaoke mics.)

I did, however, snap a few pictures – and throw down some cash – the next day at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market.

I’ve been meaning to get to Lincoln on a Sunday ever since Megan helped me put together a post about the farmers’ market for this blog.

fresh produce at Old Cheney Road Farmers' Market

A Nebraska harvest.

I picked up some fresh produce for a veggie tray I was tasked with providing for my mom’s birthday party later that day.

I also picked up something for the dogs – chewy beef heart treats from Chisholm Family Farm.

Chisholm Family Farms dog treats

Chisholm Family Farm makes it easy to feed your dog raw, natural food and treats.

The booth next door held exactly the kind of gifts I had in mind to present to my mother on her 58th birthday – all-natural beauty products.


Wingsets natural beauty care.

Wingsets is a Lincoln-based business operated by a husband and wife team. In addition to a huge array of bath, skincare and hair products for people, they have developed a robust line of pet products. I look forward to trying some of those on our pack in the future.

Stop 2: Beatrice

My next stop was my hometown for a family portrait. I let the professional photographer take care of those shots.

Before everyone got together, though, I snapped this shot of my Dad’s friend Rosie’s adorable Yorkshire terriers.


Ermahgerd! Yorkies!

After the photo session in the park, my dad took me out to the farm where he helps take care of a real menagerie of critters raised for pleasure and food.

Jag and Prowler, the resident German Shepherds he’s been training, greeted us when we rolled up.

skulky german shepherds

“Welcome to the farm!”

Named after the rottweiler I grew up with, Prowler is growing up to be a handsome and mischievous fellow. The advice is to be careful when leaving small items, from caps and t-shirts to plastic bottles, unattended in his presence.

german shepherd dog

“I promise not to steal your water bottle in half an hour.”

Dad loves zooming around the farm on the John Deere Gator. I hopped in the passenger seat, and we said hello to some of his animal friends.

dad on a gator

Just a dad, a gator and a horse.

horse and a John Deere Gator

“Didz u say hai er hay?”

Zipper the horse is a sweet old thing who peacefully resides with a small pack of burros. They have all learned to equate the arrival of the Gator in the pasture with treat time.

burros and baby

“Did someone say treats?”

The bison herd on the other side of the fence knows what the Gator means, too. My dad’s favorite bison is this big-headed bull whose tongue is bigger than my wrist.

buffalo tongue

“Just a little closer.”

Apparently, the resident elk aren’t feeling very friendly this time of year.

But in just a couple hours, on the last stop of my whirlwind Nebraska tour, I would see another hoofed creature.

Stop 3: Peru

From Beatrice, I zoomed to Peru, Nebraska, a very hilly, very small college town where the Rains side of my family has roots.

My grandfather, who is buried in Peru, grew up in the town. He was a hometown football hero there, and it’s where he met my grandmother.

Peru is also where my mother originally met my stepfather in the 1970s. Decades would pass before they came together again and began to build a life together.

We celebrated my mom’s 58th birthday at the gazebo in Neal Park where they were married in 2005.

On this Sunday afternoon, my mother was showered with thoughtful and useful gifts, including a leather jacket, an iPhone and this hoodie I wish I could take credit for:

Walk with a Friend paw print hoodie

Who could say it better?

Of course, there was cake!

Catfish the Boston Terrier resented that no one offered her any.

Boston Terrier peeks onto table

That Boston Terrier needs a booster seat.

After the food was devoured and presents unwrapped, nature treated us all to another gift – a not-so-distant view of a deer.

My mom squealed with delight at the beautiful sight.

deer in the distance

Ermahgerd! Deer!

As you can imagine, by the end of this little roadtrip, I was exhausted. But what a great weekend!

Have you gotten out of town recently? What did you do?

Have you entered the giveaway yet? Don’t miss your chance to win a Lavender Neem Shampoo Bar from Baltimore Bumble Crafts!

Dog Sitting: How to Handle an Emergency (Guest Blog)

dog and person silhouette

The solution for many of us when we travel is to send the dogs to someone else’s house or hire a sitter. But if you ever find that you are the “someone else” in that equation  you know that dog sitting is a huge responsibility.

Today’s guest post comes from an expert on the subject of dog sitting. Many of her recommendations could also be helpful in an emergency with your own pets.

When pet sitting, caregivers should always have a plan for responding to an emergency.

Be Prepared
It is important to gather emergency contact information prior to beginning a pet sitting job. This list should include contact numbers for the pet’s family, the veterinarian, the nearest emergency facility, and the poison control hotline. It is also a good idea to discuss emergency procedures with the pet’s family before they leave.

Be Cautious
An injured or sick animal may respond in an aggressive manner. The caregiver should remain calm and use slow movements to approach the dog. If the dog is docile, he can be safely transported. If, however, the dog shows aggression, the caregiver should refrain from touching him and call for emergency help.

outside with a poodle

Emergency Situations

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and American Animal Hospital Associationoffer guidelines for recognizing emergencies. These include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, or choking
  • Gagging or vomiting with a swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours
  • Difficulty standing, disorientation, or collapsing
  • Seizure
  • Weak/rapid pulse or no heartbeat
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Blood in the urine, feces, or vomit
  • Broken bones or symptoms of extreme pain
  • Heatstroke
  • Poisoning

Next Steps

If a dog exhibits any of these symptoms, the caregiver should transport him to the nearest emergency facility. The pet sitter should also notify the dog’s family and stay in communication with them until the emergency is resolved.

playing with french bulldog

Emergency Care Before Transport

In some situations, the caregiver should take specific action prior to transporting the dog. Of course, the pet sitter should use her best judgment to decide if a situation warrants immediate transport or at-home life-saving measures.


If a caregiver believes that a dog has ingested poison, she should call the 24-hour ASPCA poison control hotline. Based on the quantity of the specific substance ingested, the toxicologist will provide instructions for how to handle the situation. If the caregiver is unsure what the dog ingested, or if the dog is exhibiting emergency symptoms, he should be transported immediately.


If a dog is choking, the caregiver can perform a mouth sweep by inserting her fingers into the dog’s mouth and attempting to dislodge the object. The sitter can also use a modified Heimlich maneuver by sharply thumping the dog on the chest. At this point, the caregiver can ascertain if the dog needs further assistance.

sleeping with a dog


If a dog is unconscious, the caregiver should check for breathing and heartbeat. If the dog is not breathing, the sitter can perform artificial respiration. To do this, the caregiver should extend the dog’s head and hold his mouth closed. Then, the sitter will form a seal around the dog’s muzzle with her own mouth and blow into his nostrils every three seconds. If the dog has no heartbeat, the caregiver can use cardiac massage by administering three chest compressions for each respiration.


If a dog is bleeding from a traumatic injury, the sitter should elevate the wound and apply firm pressure to stop the bleeding. If another person can drive to the veterinarian’s office, the sitter can keep this pressure on the wound during the journey.

Lauren Colman serves as the digital marketer for the dog boarding and dog sitting community at and is a true dog lover at heart. Lauren spends her days at the office with her dogs Squish and Brando by her side. For more dog tips, you can follow on Twitter @roverdotcom or on their blog, Dog Boarding News.  

Have you ever faced a scary situation while dog sitting? What happened? And what helpful advice would you add to this list?

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