Bella, and her Excellent Adventure

BellaThe following is Bella’s story, and is a repost from Divinity’s friends at the Grey Muzzle Organization.

Bella’s story is cool as all get out, and is a wonderful example of a senior dog’s ability to enjoy amazing adventures in their older years.

Here is Bella’s story:

Bella has had quite a year. It’s not often a dog gets to jet off to Paris and London–particularly an elderly dog—but Bella’s golden years have turned out to be just that: golden.

It began when the elderly mixed breed was surrendered by an owner who no longer wanted her. Her health was declining overall; she needed everything and she got it, when Animal Rescue of New Orleans (ARNO) saved her, lavished her with TLC, and found a new home for her.

A grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization helped with heartworm treatment and dental surgery. Although they weren’t quite ready to get a dog, Rebecca and Ben, a nice couple who wanted to help the shelter, spotted Bella and agreed to foster her temporarily while she was undergoing heartworm treatment.

What they didn’t anticipate, however, was falling in love with this sweet snuggly girl so quickly. They couldn’t resist her charms and agreed to adopt her, even though they were getting ready to go abroad. Bella was friendly and adjusted easily but she was a picky eater! She only wanted people food, and she was overweight. The couple found a way to trick her by putting her food bowl on the dining table and hand feeding her. She gobbled it up!

The first three months were tough for Bella because she had to stay very calm during the heartworm treatment to prevent getting a blood clot. Normally Bella got very excited to greet people and to go on walks.

Her treatment was completed just before Ben and Rebecca left for their trip to Ethiopia and Bella went to live with her “grandparents” in Pennsylvania, where she had her dental work completed. While the couple was away the vet found a cancerous growth on her tongue that fortunately was operable. So Bella underwent another ordeal with risky surgery and came through with flying colors.

Meanwhile, Rebecca found a job in London so she and Ben made arrangements for Bella to come join them. Bella’s trip to the UK was quite an adventure. She rode in the car for hours from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC for a direct flight to Paris. From there, she took the train to Calais, where she was reunited with her parents.

They were very happy to have their healthy old dog back in their arms. The trio rode together in a car on the EuroTunnel, a train that carries cars and their passengers from Calais, France to Folkstone, UK. There, they caught another train to London and then took a bus ride to their apartment. Bella was finally home! She is now settling into life in London comfortably and has already been to Scotland for vacation.

Bella leads an enchanted life and Grey Muzzle is delighted to have helped her on her journey and give her the happy ending she deserves.

Here is Bella’s “passport”

Note: For privacy, I removed Bella’s last name, and microchip number from this picture.

Bella's "passport"

One happy family at the park, in London

Happy family at park in London

Favorite Photo’s from our Second Year Together

It has now been seven months since my little lady was euthanized. This month I celebrate Divinity’s love of life, with some of my favorite photographs & movies taken during our second year together.

Divinity learned to run!

To read about Divinity learning to run, click HERE

Note: Click on the following image to watch a movie of Divinity learning to run

Outdoor Camping Trips

To read about Divinity Camping, click the following links: Glacial Lakes State Park, Sibley State Park, and Moose Lake State Park.

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glacier Lakes State Park

Sibley State Park

Sibley State Park

Moose Lake State Park

Moose Lake State Park

Divinity also enjoyed Curb Walking

To read about Divinity Curb Walking, click HERE

Note: Click on the following image watch a movie of Divinity curb walking

Dog World magazine cover girl

To read about Divinity being on this cover, click HERE

Dog World cover gal

Second Annual – Mid-Winter Indoor Camping Trip

To read about Divinity’s Second Annual – Mid-Winter Indoor Camping Trip, click HERE

Second Annual - Mid-Winter Indoor Camping Trip

A custom tailored winter suit

To read about Divinity’s first winter suit, click HERE

Custom Tailored Winter Suit


Grey Muzzle Sanctuary on TalkItUp TV

Recently, I watched a video about the Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary on TalkItUp TV.

Thayne Hamilton

Now the Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary is not affiliated with the Grey Muzzle Organization, and their missions are different.

  • The Grey Muzzle Organization is based in Raleigh, NC, and is not a rescue, and does not have a shelter, or a foster care network. Instead, the Grey Muzzle Organization fund raises, and donates the money to 501c3 organizations to help them help senior dogs.
  • The Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary is based in Eastsound, WA, and is a 501c3 organization, and specializes in rescuing, and adopting unadoptable and/or severely abused, old, blind, deaf, and starved dogs. They also provides a warm, loving home with five acres where these dogs can run free, and teach them to be dogs again, and to forget all about the hurt from their past. The Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary’s Facebook page is located HERE.
From TalkItUp TV

Grey Muzzle Rescue was owned and operated for the last 10 years by Thayne and Chris Hamilton, until tragedy struck in February of this year when Chris Hamilton passed away. The rescue was different from other rescues in that they adopted 20 un-adoptable and/or severely abused Dogs over 10 years of age that didn’t have much of a chance of living much less finding love and comfort in their twilight years. They took in the worst of the worst abuse cases from all over the Nation and cared for these animals as if they were family. Grey Muzzle Rescue gives them their “Forever Home”.”

Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary

Over the past twelve years, the Grey Muzzle Rescue & Sanctuary has cared for over 40 dogs – abused, old, blind, deaf, starved, the worst of the worst abuse cases from all over the nation.

Please watch this heart warming video.

Boating with your dog

Helming the boatBoating season will soon begin in northern regions, and many boat owners will be bringing their dogs with them when they go aboard.

Divinity was fascinated with boats, and at one place we lived, she enjoyed watching the restoration of a wooden powerboat. On her walks, she’d work her way to the boat, to check out the latest updates.

Divinity also skippered her own boat in a virtual round-the-world race where she became the Fastest Ocean-Racing Cairn Terrier on the Planet. Unfortunately, I was not able to find someone to take her for an actual boat ride before she died of cancer. Going for a boat ride had been an item on Divinity’s “Bucket List.” Sadly, Divinity was not able to go boating before she died.

Keeping your dog safe while aboard

The information provided below is a general “overview” to safely bring your dog on your boat. For additional information, please click the following links.

* Dogs on Boats 101

* How to Keep Pets Safely Afloat

* The Canine Crew

* Boating With Your Pets: 9-Safety Tips

* Passagemaker Magazine: Readers stories about boating with their pets

Life Jackets

Dog life jackets are a necessity. Life jackets provide buoyancy, and their high visibility helps keep your pet safe.

A dog life jacket is a must-have safety item for the dog owner who takes their pet with them on aquatic excursions. Many pets enjoy boating. However, not all dogs are strong swimmers, and some may not be able to swim at all!

Dog life jackets make it easy to get an overboard dog back to safety by placing a sturdy handle on the harness. They also act as flotation devices to keep less capable swimmers above water.

Get a brightly colored life jacket with a handle on top, this will them much easier to see and retrieve. Get your dog used to wearing their PFD before setting out on a boat.

How much do you need to spend on a lifejacket for your dog? The answer to that question is easy, how much is your dog’s life worth to you?



Long hours in the sun without adequate eye protection increase the chances of developing eye disease. Absorbent sunglasses and sun-goggles can help protect your eyes and the eyes of your pet from sun damage.

Doggles, or other pet sunglasses, are actually goggles for dogs, and provide protection from foreign objects, wind, and UV light.


Safe on the Leash?

If you must keep a leash on your dog while on your boat, either handhold the leash, or put the leash under your foot. If your dog strains at the leash constantly, the answer is more training, not a bigger leash.

Question: Should I tie my dog’s leash to the boat?
Answer: In an emergency (fire/sinking), you might need to abandon the boat in a hurry. In such a situation, or if your boat should capsize, you will want your dog to be able to swim free of the boat. The leash is to help you maintain control of your dog while for getting in, and getting out of the boat.

Safe on the Leash

Sun and Heat Protection

Excessive sun exposure can cause heat problems for animals. Just as with humans, they include sun stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. Providing a shaded are for your pet is a good idea. Again, give them plenty of water. Let them take a dip in the water to cool them down if necessary.

Boat surfaces, such as fiberglass, can get extremely hot in the sun. Dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet, so be sure to provide protection for their paws from the heat.

Sun protection can be as simple as a towel draped above your dog like a canopy, a hat, or even a portable doggy tent.

Dog CanopyHat

Dining Area

You need to provide a place for your dog to eat & drink, and if possible, give them a non-slip rug, or mat to stand on!

Note: Always have lots of water for your dog. Whether sailing, at anchor, or in a marina, always make sure to have water available for your dog to drink.

Dining Area
Nautical Potty-Pad

“Almost every boat with a dog has a piece of carpet or Astroturf somewhere on deck as the designated “spot.”

“A piece of AstroTurf, or a box of sod can work as a substitute when landfall is not possible. Some people just train their dogs to go on the boat deck, though this is difficult and often dangerous while underway (not to mention, yuck). The problem isn’t where to go, it is getting your dog to understand it is OK to go. This can be really tricky to do with an older dog. Start training on the boat as soon as possible.”

The Boat Galley posted a good article on how to potty train a dog on a boat. To read this article, click HERE.

Dog Potty Area

 Be safe, and enjoy the water with your dog!

Enjoying the water

The Ultimate Dog Crew

The Grey Muzzle Organization – The Movie

The Grey Muzzel OrganizationThe Grey Muzzle Organization improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other non-profit groups nationwide.

The Grey Muzzle funds programs such as hospice care, senior dog adoption, medical screening, and other special programs to help old dogs at animal welfare organizations across the country.

Please watch this video about Divinity’s friends, and find out how you can help this wonderful organization.

Is Your Pet Safe From These Potential Household Poisons?

The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance posted a good article by Dr. Patrick Mahaney on “Is your Pet Safe from these Potential Household Poisons” that can harm, or even kill your pet.

National Poison Prevention Week 2015 is March 15-21, but your dog or cat is at risk for potentially fatal toxicity on a year-round basis. As a result, it’s critically important that all pet owners are aware of household and environmental toxins, clinical signs of toxicity, treatment options, and toxin avoidance.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney’s article includes information on the following subjects:

Toxin Awareness

* Cleaning products used on floors, carpet, and upholstery – Phenols (which are typically found in cleaners with the word “sol” in the name), Phthalates, Formaldehyde (found in general household cleaners), Bleach, Isopropyl alcohol, Perchloroethylene (found in rug and carpet shampoos)

* Spray and powdered air fresheners and potpourri – Spray air fresheners are especially toxic to birds while liquid potpourri can cause corrosive burns and severe organ system damage to cats.

* Mothballs – Cats are more severely affected than dogs, but contact with or ingestion of mothballs by either species can lead to toxicity.

* Potted house-plants or seasonal plants – Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Lily, Mistletoe, Pine, Tulip, and many other plants and their flowers can be mild to severely toxic if consumed.

* Human prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational drugs – According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, of the nearly 180,000 cases of pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2013 the most commonly reported toxicity resulted from ingestion of prescription human medications.

* Human supplements- “Hangover Pills”, Iron, Kava, multivitamins, and others all potentially have toxic effects.

* Veterinary drugs and supplements – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), narcotic pain medications, psychopharmaceuticals (SSRIs, etc.), flea and tick preventatives, and others that are made to be used for our pets can have mild to severe toxicity if inappropriately used or ingested.

Yard – We all want our pets to experience the joys of playing outdoors in our yards, but there are actually many toxins that can cause sickness or death on a single-ingestion basis or as a result of chronic exposure.

* Herbicides and fungicides – Besides having a directly toxic effects, contact with herbicides has also been linked to the development of cancer (Transitional Cell Carcinoma or TCC) in dogs.

* Pesticides – Organophosphates and carbamates are especially dangerous to our canine and feline companions.

* Fertilizer – mulch (coffee-ground, parasite laden manure, etc.), chemical (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, i.e. 30-10-10), heavy metals, and others many promote plant growth but they all can make a pet very sick if ingested.

* Flowers, plants, and trees – Besides the flowers and plants that are brought into our homes, Avocado, Azalea, Sago Palm, and other plants’ stems, leaves, seeds, and more can sicken animals even if small quantities are ingested.

* Mushrooms – Fortunately, many mushroom varieties are non-toxic to pets. Yet, it’s hard tell toxic from non-toxic mushrooms, so ingestion of any mushrooms from the outdoors should be avoided.

* Stinging and biting insects – Bites and stings from insects (ants, bees, hornets, etc.) can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis (“allergic reaction”).

Driveway/Parking Lots

* Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) – Known to cause severe kidney toxicity if even a few teaspoons are consumed, Ethylene Glycol can form a toxic puddle under any vehicle.

* Rock salt – Both the skin and digestive tract can be mildly or severely irritated by rock salt.

* Motor oil and gasoline – Besides the toxic effects of motor oil and unleaded gasoline or diesel, the toxic effects of such products can be compounded if they are mixed with Ethylene Glycol.


* Human foods known to be toxic for pets – Alcohol, artificial sweeteners (Xylitol), bread dough, caffeine, chocolate, currants, grapes, macadamia nuts, raisins, onion family members, spices (cloves, nutmeg, etc.), and others all harbor toxic potential for our pets.

* Chemical preservatives – BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanilose), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Propylene Glycol, etc.) added to pet foods and treats as preservatives have no place entering our pets’ mouths and have been linked to health problems like cancer (BHA and BHT) and anemia (Propylene Glycol).

* Chemical contaminants (Melamine, etc.) – Who can forget the Melamine pet-food crisis of 2007? Certainly not we veterinarians. Melamine is a plastic compound that can elevate nitrogen levels and therefore the calibrated percentage of protein in food. Dogs and cats suffered kidney failure and death when they consumed kibble and canned pet foods having Melamine-contaminated wheat gluten.

* Mold-produced toxins – Mycotoxins (aflatoxin, vomitoxin) produced by mold can accumulate in pet foods and treats, especially those made with feed-grade grains which have higher allowable levels of mycotoxins.

* Pathogenic bacteria – Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and other pathogenic bacteria can contaminate pet foods and treats and can even spread to and sicken humans.

Shampoo and topical products

* Diethlanolamine (DEA) – This plant-derived fatty acid was included in California’s list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity and has now been excluded from many pet shampoos.

* Essential oils – Although they don’t sound dangerous, “essential oils”, including Tea Tree Oil, are toxic for dogs and even more so for cats.

Clinical Signs of Toxicity

There are many clinical signs our pets may exhibit upon being exposed to a toxic agent. Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):

* Salivation
* Coughing
* Sneezing
* Eye discharge
* Lethargy
* Anorexia
* Vomit
* Diarrhea
* Seizure
* Panting
* Pacing
* Vocalizing
* Unusual behaviors
* Collapse
* Coma
* Death

Treatment of Toxic Exposures

Should you have a suspicion or confirmation that your pet has incurred a toxic exposure, take immediate action by:

* Calling your veterinarian or your local emergency veterinary hospital

* Starting a consultation with ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or Pet Poison Helpline, as both resources are staffed with board certified veterinary toxicologists who can best guide your veterinarian on the most appropriate treatment

* Avoiding D.I.Y. (Do it Yourself) treatments like using hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting or providing foods that have adsorbent properties unless a veterinarian guides you throughout the process

Toxin Avoidance

As the guardian of your pet’s health and welfare, it’s crucial that you think ahead in a manner similar to childproofing your home, car, and other spaces to avoid illness or death secondary to toxic exposure. My top tips include:

* Keep your pet under your observation at all time (i.e. no wandering free unobserved in your backyard, at a park, etc.).

* Walk your dog on short, flat (non-extendable) leash instead of extendable lead.

* Carefully evaluate all new spaces for potential toxins before permitting your pet to enter.

* Use pet-safe products in your home, yard (non-toxic pest control), and car (antifreeze).

* Read labels carefully and don’t permit your pet to eat any foods or treats you’d not eat yourself (i.e. feed human-grade foods instead of feed-grade foods).

* Educate yourself about pet poisons through on-line resources (Animal Poison Control Center or Pet Poison Helpline)

* Seek pet-product recommendations from your veterinarian instead of purchasing over the counter options.


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