Making the most of the time with your dogs during #CoronaQuarantine2020

I think we all know dogs are the real winners in this Coronavirus quarantine. Although they don’t understand “social distancing,” dogs of the world are rejoicing as they get time back with their humans to do all of the things they dream of while we are away.

So, now that we have all this time, what should we be doing with our dogs? Especially when the weather is less than ideal, so we are mostly trapped inside. Besides just extra snuggles, which they definitely deserve, here are a few ideas from things we are doing during #CoronaQuarantine2020.

Make a homemade agility course

Putting together an agility course is pretty easy to do, even if you don’t have a lot of space. You can use a broom on top of a few boxes and have your dog jump over it, put some Tupperware or small boxes down to make a course for them to run zig zags through, get a small stool or bucket and have your dog jump up on it. You can find lots of ideas online for making your own course at home.

We set up ours in the basement and have a “course” where they can jump over two planks, run through a tunnel (purchased tunnel on Amazon) and jump up on a stool at the end. The dogs love it. It’s especially challenging with two dogs to get one dog to stay while the other goes, so it’s also a great way to do other training on stay while you work on agility too.



Scent games

This is one of the easiest ways to entertain your dog, that actually does wear them out. You can hide treats or other food and make a game of hide and seek around the house, or you could put out boxes and hide treats in and around the boxes.

You can also hide treats in a muffin pan with tennis balls on top – great idea from Jessica at Milo and Me in Lakewood. We use scent games to work on stay as well, as one dog takes a turn finding treats and the other waits.



This is your chance to really work on getting your dog to cooperate for grooming. I decided to use this time to work on teeth brushing with Hunter (Roscoe only has a couple teeth — they were bad before I adopted him 😀). I have really been slacking in this area, relying on bones and dental chews to care for his teeth. We are going to start an at home tooth cleaning routine now that we have time to work on this at home.

This time at home is a good opportunity to work on grooming with dogs that are not a fan of brushing or nail clipping or teeth brushing. Make your grooming session a fun snuggle time for your dog, or bring in a lot of treats and toys to try and get them associating grooming time with a more fun activity. You can take it slow and just do small amounts of brushing or teeth cleaning, followed up with lots of snuggles and quality time to make this a more fun experience and hopefully get them more comfortable with grooming.


Explore the Metroparks, find new trails

Luckily, we can still get outside! I still have a list of parks that I want to visit, so we will definitely be going through this list on nicer days (as long as it’s not raining at this point, since we are so desperate to get out). This is your chance to really explore the area and find some new parks and trails to love. Here are some of my favorites:

Just be together

We really take for granted how much our dogs spend their lives waiting for us to get home. They are our constant companions; their lives truly revolve around us. We’ve been given an opportunity to spend a significant amount of quality time with our dogs and we should really take this time to just be with them and give back some of the love they are always giving to us. Take some time to do whatever your dog loves best, snuggle, play fetch, take a walk, do whatever it is you can to really appreciate this extra time we get together.

Stay healthy everyone, we will get through this! I know it’s a scary time but I am trying to focus on the positive, and one of the positives definitely is getting more time at home with my dogs.

And, please send me any ideas or pictures of how you are spending this quarantine with your dog.




Cleveland dog-friendly indoor activities

The winter tends to drag on here in Cleveland, and even when we get some warm days we often have to deal with trekking through muddy slush if we want to get our dogs outside. It can be difficult to figure out things to do with your dog that don’t end up in a bath for him (or you) this time of year.

If your dog is bored and you’re tired of dealing with the cold and snow, the Cleveland area does have some indoor activity options. Whether you just want to drop your dog off to burn off some energy for a few hours, or have him try swimming or agility, check out these options this winter:

Indoor dog park

Did you know K9 Cleveland has an indoor dog park? The doggie day care located near the Flats allows you bring your dog to play for an hour or so, while you stay and hang out with him. I was excited to see this option since I am not that big of a fan of dropping my dog off for play. From my experience with doggie daycare, Hunter just sits there and waits for me to come back. I like having an option where he can play with me and play with other dogs.

This option is only available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $2 and you have to show proof of rabies, DHPP and Bordetella, and pass a basic temperament test. Visit for more info.

k9 cleveland

Swimming and Activity Room

If you haven’t checked out the Canine Country Club, you really need to! It is so exciting we now have this option for indoor play here in Cleveland. With a large dog pool and an activity room with agility equipment, this is the perfect destination for your dog this winter. You can sign up online for your dog to do a half hour swim session with their staff, or if your dog is experienced swimmer, you can sign up for open pool time. You just have to go through the swim initiation first, so they can assess your dog’s swimming ability.

They also have an activity room that you can reserve some time to play with your dog. The room includes agility equipment so you can work on that with your dog. The Club also offers the option for owners can drop their dogs off for a half hour play session with an activity assistant. Find out more about this or swimming options at:


Drop off play time

If you need to run some errands and just want to have your dog run off some energy, a few doggie day care facilities allow you drop your dog off for two hours of play time. The Dog Stop Plus near downtown, Stay Dog CLE in the Detroit Shoreway area and Double Dog Day Care in Stow, are a few of the places that allow dogs to be dropped off for some short-term playtime.


PetPeople stores host dog play groups on certain days, although I think it’s down to only the Hudson location that hosts these currently. Small dog socials are for dogs 30lbs or less. I don’t see any large dog socials on the calendar locally here for this month or next. Visit to find out more.

Dog Classes

Training your dog is one the best ways to keep your dog active in the winter. We do a lot of training at home (it’s very easy to make your own agility course or do nose work), but it’s even better to get your dog out to try out some new skills or brush up on his or her obedience training.

Fortunate Fido is one of my favorite training centers. We’ve done about every course we can there. They offer Rally training classes, scent run trials, as well as various other obedience training classes. Cleveland All Breed Training Club offer agility classes if you’re looking to get your dog into that, as well as scent run trials, obedience training and Canine Good Citizen courses.

There are good training facilities all over Cleveland, so do a search to find the perfect one for your dog.


What do you do with your dog in winter to keep him or her entertained?

The Horrible 100 for 2018

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

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

puppy mill

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

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

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

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

puppy mill dog

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

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

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

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


How to Buy a Puppy

Step 1 – Do not go to a pet store

Step 2 – Go to your local shelter or

It actually is that simple – at least in my mind.

Unfortunately, many people just think it’s easier to get a puppy from a pet store. But as an educated consumer, you really should be aware of what you are contributing to when you buy a pet from a store. Purchases of pet store puppies keep the puppy mill industry going. Period. End of story. And there are so many better ways to get a puppy, it’s just not necessary. Here’s a glimpse into the life of a dog living in a puppy mill:

If you didn’t just tear up, or full on cry like I did watching that, you may want to check your pulse. Is that something you want to support?

I do understand that a lot of people want a puppy and don’t know where else to go. But contrary to popular opinion, shelters and rescue groups do get puppies. It’s not as common of course, but if you keep your eye out you can find one. A recent search on pulled up numerous Cleveland-area puppies and dogs under a year.

And unless you need a brand-spanking new eight-week-old puppy (pro tip – never buy from a breeder who wants to sell one before seven or eight weeks), getting a four, six or nine month old puppy is still getting a puppy, although slightly bigger and more developed. I adopted Hunter when he was around six months of age and I highly recommend that age. He was almost out of his chewing phase and mostly potty-trained already, but still young enough that he was cute and cuddly and could be easily trained.

My six month old puppy
My six month old puppy

And why should you get a puppy from a rescue group rather than go through a breeder or a pet store? Because 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year because they don’t have a home, according to the ASPCA. 1.2 MILLION DOGS KILLED.

Ok, if after all of that you still HAVE TO get a certain breed of dog that you can’t find through a rescue group, you may wonder how to find a reputable breeder.  I know a few friends who have used breeders so I asked one of them for some tips on what to do and what to look for once you find one.

Step 1 – Research research research

The friend I spoke with said that she did hours of research over the course of several weeks to find a good Goldendoodle breeder. The one she found through a search of breeders in Ohio had a website with tons of information that addressed most of her questions. The site also had pictures of owners and the dogs they purchased, showing her that people had been satisfied with dogs from this breeder. Of course, anything on the Internet can be faked, which leads to the next key part of buying a puppy:

Step 2 – Arrange a meeting

You should always go see where the puppy was born, meet the breeders and see where they are breeding the dogs. This is so important to make sure this isn’t actually a backyard breeder or someone who is selling to pet stores or online sites on the side. Most good breeders will require this, so if they don’t, that’s a bad sign. One question you should ask if they don’t address it on their website or through the meeting is how many litters they do per year. If they are churning out puppies every week or breeding a lot of different types of dogs, it’s probably a backyard breeder.

Also, I don’t think I should even have to mention this, but just in case – you should never agree to having a breeder ship a dog to you. This is never ok and highly traumatic for the dog.

Step 3 – Ask for references

You want to make sure this breeder has a good reputation. You should ask for references you can call to find out about other experiences people have had with this breeder. This should tell you a lot about whether this breeder has a history of selling sick dogs or generally being a bad breeder.

Step 4 – Get contact information for the Veterinarian

In addition to ensuring you have the breeder’s contact information and have spoken with them on the phone (and made sure they provided a working number) and met with them in person, you should also ask for the contact information for the Veterinarian they use. Before you purchase the puppy they should’ve received shots and seen a Vet, so you will want to verify this was done and confirm the information that was given to you about the puppy’s medical records.

If a breeder won’t agree to these things, that is a major red flag. A good breeder will always want to meet you and make sure you are a good fit for the dog and will be up front about their health history and other dogs they breed. A bad breeder will not want to do this, which shows that they are probably not breeding in the best interest of the dog and just trying to turn a profit.

Here are some good resources to begin your puppy search:

Sounds like a lot of work right? You should probably just adopt. Rescue groups do the vetting for you and find out as much as they can about the dog before adopting him or her out. And the cost is usually much less than half of the cost of getting a dog through a breeder or at a store. The truth is, all dogs take work and any dog can have health or behavioral issues, whether they come straight to you as a puppy from a breeder (puppies are the most work of all!) or if they come from a shelter or rescue group. Once you bring that dog into your life and he or she becomes a part of your family, it’s really not going to matter that he came from a shelter or rescue group. And the extra love you feel for saving that dog’s life will just make it even better.

(Side note: if you are looking for a certain breed but want to rescue, this is a good list to check out:

What To Do With a Lost Dog

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve encountered a stray dog. The first time I was driving down Lorain Ave. in Fairview when I saw a dog wandering around on the sidewalk, walking up to buildings and back down the street. I turned around to follow him and he quickly ran across the street and then right up to my car, stopping traffic all around him. Another car stopped and once he opened his door, the dog jumped right in. Apparently he was looking for someone to pick him up, probably because he was smart enough to realize this was his ticket to getting food. Of course he had no collar on and was very obviously unneutered, so it’s hard to say where he might have come from. I talked to the man who stopped, who seemed very nice, and said he would take him to the police station. Not knowing really what was best to do, I thanked him and went on my way.

A few days later, I was walking my dogs when a small little dog ran right up to us, barking away. He was very confrontational, but harmless. He just tousled around with Hunter for a bit and barked at us. I figured he’d probably just run out of a house nearby, so I just stood where we were for a little bit hoping his owner would come out. A few minutes later a very worried woman came running over and picked the dog right up, thanking me for finding him (although it was just lucky that I was out walking my dogs at that moment and attracted his attention). Again, he had no collar on, so it was a good thing that he stopped to meet my dogs, giving his owner enough time to track him down.

Both of these encounters made realize I need to look into this issue a little more. If I don’t feel comfortable totally knowing what to do, there’s a good chance many others out there don’t as well. Obviously, if the dog is wearing a collar then you just contact the number listed, but as in most cases with stray dogs, that probably won’t be an option. Here are a few things tips I pulled together from the Humane Society, as well as advice from those who work in rescue:

lost dog

Use Social Media – start posting pictures right away, make them public and ask others to share. Find local shelters in the area and post to their page. Also post to local lost dog pages (there’s one for Cleveland: as well as Pet FBI (

Take him to the vet – A vet can scan for a microchip to try and track down the owners.

Take him to a local shelter/rescue groups – Call your local shelter, or stop by, to get their help with the dog. Not every community has a shelter, but here is a list of some of the neighborhood animal shelters (note: not all of these places will take in a stray dog that you want to drop off, but they can assist with helping you place the dog or find an owner):

Cleveland Kennel (216) 664-3069
Euclid Animal Shelter (216) 289-2057
Berea Animal Rescue Fund (440) 234-2034
Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter (Independence area) (216) 525-7877
Parma Animal Shelter (440) 885-8010
Lakewood Animal Shelter (216) 529-5020
Northeast Ohio SPCA, Parma area (216) 351-7387

If the shelter isn’t open, you can take him or her to the local police station, or take the dog home and wait until morning when they reopen. Just be sure to separate the dog from any other pets, as you aren’t sure how he or she will handle the new environment. If you want to keep the dog and try and find the owner, you should still report the dog as found to a local shelter. They can spread the word and help you in your attempt to find the owner.

In some cases, it might not be that easy to get the dog to come to you. You should never chase or run after a stray dog, as they are likely scared already and won’t respond well to that. If the dog seems angry or like he or she might not respond well to someone approaching him, you can always call your local shelter to get help with catching him. If you do feel comfortable approaching the dog, you should try to lure him or her with strong-smelling food, as well as speak calmly and move slowly.

Read some more good tips from the Humane Society here:

Have you ever encountered a stray? What did you do?

Cleveland’s Next Top Dog-el

I’ve always thought my dog should be a model. I might have actually looked into dog modeling agencies at one point. He does get a lot of attention when I take him on walks, so of course it would only make sense that he should also be on the next box of Milkbone treats. I mean, look at this:

Look at that smizing! Fabio Hunter.

If you have thought similarly about your dog, this Sunday is your chance to dress him up so he can strut his stuff on the dogwalk. The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter will be hosting “Paw-ject Runway” (the puns are just endless) a dog “modeling” contest where the top 12 dogs will be chosen to be featured in Dick Goddard’s Best Friends Medical Relief Calendar.


Photo courtesy of the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter.
Photo courtesy of the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter.

The $20 admission fee to enter your dog in the contest will go to the Best Friends Medical Relief Fund, which provides veterinary care for sick or injured shelter and rescue dogs. The admission fee also gives you access to the Mutt Strut and Mingle adoption event, a copy of the calendar, a pack walk through Whiskey Park and online voting for the calendar contest. You can register for the event here: If you just want to go the adoption event and watch the calendar contest the admission fee is $5.

As if you needed more excitement, the event will also feature adoptable dogs from various rescue groups, drink specials, food trucks, celebrity guests and live music.

Can’t wait to see who will be the next top dog-el!