Happy Pet.
 by Laurie Buckley!

Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley

Ruffing It Outdoors.

I took a few days off for a mini vacation. Actually to use the popular term, a “staycation.” I went tent camping in Ft. Clinch. You may laugh but as we approach our first year in business, I needed an easy, inexpensive, unplugged vacation. Ft. Clinch fit the bill. I was amazed that by driving less than ten minutes from my house, I truly had “gotten away.” And the best of all, I brought my favorite furry companion, Mae.

Florida State Parks do allow dogs. The only downside is that they do not allow dogs on the beach. But since Mae and I spend a plenty of time on the beach normally, we were happy to enjoy the woods for a change.

Mae and I have camped in an RV many times. But this was only our second foray into tent camping. The first time we went tent camping, I was amazed that Mae knew exactly what the tent was for. Now of course, I think that she’s brilliant, having Border Collie genes and all. But even I was impressed with how quickly she figured this out. I spent a good twenty minutes setting up the air mattress and getting the blankets and sheets all neatly arranged. Only to have her, at the very first opportunity, walk into the tent (dirty feet and all!), make a giant nest out of all my hard work and go to sleep.

Mae’s a good little camper and low maintenance. If anything, I was more concerned with her comfort than she was. I forgot her dog bed and felt bad that the poor thing had to lie in the dirt. Heaven forbid the DOG should have to lie in the DIRT. How unnatural. We both appreciate camping in the cooler weather though. She had enough sense to lie under the shaded picnic table. But I confess. After her mid-morning walk, I put her in the air conditioned car for a nap. No only did she have to be pulled out of the car after that but anytime she got warm she stood outside the car and stared at it. You know, the way Border Collies do. As if they can will something to happen. No, she’s no dummy.

The only casualty of the trip was her dog food. The last night, I forgot to lock up the food, which was stored in my “Life is Good” back pack. Yes, life was good for the raccoon that allegedly walked off with the food, back pack and all. But here’s what’s curious. Mae hardly slept a wink the first night due to watching and growling at all manner of wildlife. By the last night, she was so relaxed that her food got carried off with out as much as a whimper.

Camping is a wonderful way to spend time with your dog and Florida State Parks are a great destination. Within an hour, we have Ft. Clinch, Little Talbot and Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. They have a great website at www.floridastateparks.org. The pet rules are pretty much common sense and include:

o Pets must be vaccinated against rabies;

o Pets must be confined or leashed. Leashes may not exceed six feet in length. I would also be sure your pet is wearing his id tag;
o Pets must be well-behaved at all times.
o Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles.

And certainly during the summer months, you must be careful that your pet doesn’t overheat. If the weather forecast was for extreme heat, I would reconsider taking Fido along. And never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are open. Ten minutes could be too long on a hot day. By then, the temperature inside the car could reach 160 degrees. That's hot enough to cause a dog to suffer heat stroke. Pets don't perspire as people do. They cool themselves by panting. With only very hot air to breathe, your pets could suffer permanent brain damage within moments.

Another great resource for people who like to camp and do other activities with their pets is “The Dog Lover’s Companion to Florida” by Sally Deneen and Robert McClure. This book has great information on everywhere, big and small that you can take your dog. It also gives great tips for traveling with you pet.

Thanks to our wonderful customers who supported our Suds 4 Shelters Bath-a-Thon. We raised over $450 for the Nassau Humane Society. Thanks also to our employees, who donated their time and tips to the cause.

A very special thanks to local artist Barbara Noden. On the anniversary of my dog Jake’s death, Barbara presented me with his framed portrait, painted from a picture. She did an amazing job! It now graces the entrance to our Spa. Anyone who would like to see the picture can stop by and visit. If you would like Barbara to paint a portrait of your pet, she can be contacted at .