Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Dog Lover Dads

written by: Joanne

With Father’s Day just around the corner on June 16th, 2013, we may all be thinking what on Earth to get the hardest-to-shop-for man alive.

There’s the completely predictable Father’s Day gifts: BBQ tools to upgrade the old ones, a new tie to add to his tie collection, a “#1 Dad” mug, a book in the genre of his interest, or if he’s lucky, tickets to the game of his favorite sport (sadly skip this one if he’s a Canucks fan… think Vancouver Whitecaps Soccer or Vancouver Canadians Baseball). The Vancouver Canadians home opening game is Monday June 17th at 7pm, perfect timing for Father’s Day. Vancouver Whitecaps even have a Father’s Day Contest, first prize being two tickets to the match on Sat. June 15th, prematch chalk talk with front staff, behind the scenes tour of B.C. Place, two Whitecaps jerseys, and two $50 gift cards to Sport Chek. Runner up prizes to be won such as two tickets to a match on another date, and two $50 gift cards to SportChek.

Among these typical gifts and contests we must agree Dad will not be too surprised to receive, though he will be grateful no less. Dads accept any gift from a loved one, no matter how big or small. I remember drawing my dad a Picasso like picture in my early years with my crayons and construction paper and his face still lit up with love and gratitude. But what I have put together below is a list of items for the special kind of Dad – the one that loves his pooch as much as he loves his family. And for good reason! Dogs are the most loyal creatures on Earth. We all love being greeted at the door with the same smile every day.

1. A pet portrait session with a professional photographer. For the camera loving Dad. Having a session with a photographer will capture your precious pup in many different poses and natural candid action shots which you can proudly frame in your home or office and cherish in your photo albums to keep the memory alive down the road. Price range $125 – $1500. Our suggestion: Kathy Lui, local Vancouver artist. Her prices: $125 – $250 for a photo session and prints/products can be purchased separately.

2. A painting of your beloved pet. For the art appreciative Dad. Find an artist and commission them to paint a beautiful portrait. Just find Dad’s favourite photo of your fluffy furball or ferocious friend and give to the artist of your choice. Give them at least a week or two to complete the project, then present this work of art to Dad on his day. Price range – inquire as all artists vary. Our suggestion: L. J. Throstle, local Vancouver artist who uses primarily spray paint. Or C.J. Poznansky if you’re looking for the oil-based canvas look.

3. A dog training session for the family. For the strict father who loves good behaviour. We know males like to boast in certain areas, well how about boasting the most well behaved four legged family member on the block! Vancouver has many dog trainers, from the puppy training courses to general obedience or even training for the most difficult dogs who have separation anxiety or aggression. These trainers greatly vary in price. Our suggestion: ask your local dog professional like a veterinarian, dog groomer, pet shop owner or daycare owner for a recommendation.

4. A scrapbook photo album of the family years with your dog thus far. For the creative or sentimental Dad. Take all the exisiting photos you have of your dog and of the trips you’ve taken together that your pet was lucky enough to be a part of, make copies as not to destroy the originals (or use originals if you like), and cut, snip, and paste into fun shapes with captions. Price range: $1 – $100 depending on what kinds of materials you may already have in the house. Our suggestion: If you’re new to scrapbooking, you can find some tips on the Scrapbooking Warehouse website (located at 8932 Oak St). Or create a photobook with London Drugs photolab.

5. A mug with a photo of your dog(s). For the coffee drinking Dad. You can choose a photo with the kids and the dog or just your dog if he’s the star of this mug. This will be sure to give him an extra smile at home or at the office when he drinks his morning coffee or tea. Price range: $14.99 – $21.99. Our suggestion: London Drugs Photolab can make a custom mug or Starbucks Coffee for create-your-own collage travel mugs.

6. Dog lover iPhone cover case. For the techy Dad, buy him a new iPhone case that has paw prints or other cute dog designs! Price range: $20 – $50. Our suggestion: in-store at Apple or online at Cafe Press.

7. A dog lover “graphic tee” . For the fashionable Dad. Give dad a shirt he can wear that represents his outlook on dogs, for example a shirt that says “Life is short. Play with your dog” or “to the world you are one person, but to your dog you are the world”. Perhaps something more humorous is his style: “I <3 dogs, it’s humans than annoy me”! Price range: $14.99 – $24.99. Our suggestion: find online at Keep on Wagging or local in store at  Bang On.

8. Last but not least, a gift certificate to Dharma Dog Daycare. For the busy Dad, life sometimes gets crazy! We all might need help from time to time to give the family dog a little extra attention, socialization, grooming, or exercise that he or she deserves. If there’s a family vacation, business trip, or holiday coming up, you can also contact Dharma Dog for overnight boarding services (starting July 15th, 2013). Price range: whatever dollar amount you choose, see our rates for ideas.

Leave a comment if you have suggestions or if these ideas helped you! We’d love to hear back from you.

Introducing Your Dog To Children & Babies

As an expectant father, it has occurred to me that my dog Vegas has never interacted with a baby before! Luckily, I am already familiar with how to prepare him for the arrival of my son. So, I thought it might be helpful to share my process with all of you 🙂

The first step we took in our household was to download some sound bites of various crying babies, this way we could get Vegas comfortable and familiar with the unfamiliar sound. This process can be stressful on your dog and its probably a good idea to do this at least 3 months in advance of the arrival of your newborn.

The next thing that might be great to focus on is the new layout of your house. Obviously, new furniture such as change tables, cribs, tummy time areas need to be set up. As soon as you set it all up you’ll be able to establish clear boundaries for your dog to teach them that the child’s space must be respected. Babies and children are obviously much smaller, more wiggly, and squeakier than the majority of adult humans, which can be confusing to dogs as they may appear and behave like PUPPIES!

Create a dog free zone! If you have a dedicated room for the baby, it can be quite helpful to make the room completely off – limits to the dog unless you choose to invite them in. This will help you to choose the right times to make introductions.

Once the baby is born, its really important to bring the receiving blanket home before the baby is brought home. Place the blanket with the baby’s sent into your
dogs bed, or kennel so that he can become familiar with the scent of your newborn.

When finally allowing your dog to meet your child, praise him lavishly for gently sniffing and calm interaction. It is very important for you to prevent your dog from showing behaviour which can lead to injuries to your child such as jumping, or pawing.

A final word; NEVER LEAVE YOUR BABY OR CHILD ALONE WITH YOUR DOG! Both children and dogs are unpredictable and its always better to err on the side of caution.

I hope that this advice helps you all with your new introductions 🙂

How to Keep Your dog Cool During a Vancouver Heat Wave

It’s not often that we hit 20 or 30 degree weather in Vancouver but when we do, most of us set out to the beach, the dog parks, the playground, the trails, the slurpee stores, you name it! If that means more time spent outdoors for your dog, more car rides, or more outings in general, then it’s wise to know the smarts on sunshine. All tips begin and end with water, water, water!

TIP #1 Never ever leave your dog in the hot car, the risk is harm or death. If you see a dog in a car on a hot day who you believe may be in trouble, call your local SPCA. Dogs don’t sweat! The car provides no way for a dog to release heat. It takes under 10 minutes for a car (even in the shade with cracked windows) to reach dangerous temperatures for dogs. Leave pets at home where they will be more comfortable, rather than in your car.

TIP #2 Learn how to spot an overheated dog. Keep an eye on his or her behaviour and watch for the following symptoms of heat stroke: excessive panting, salivation, anxious expression, lack of coordination, red lips and red tongue (may turn bluish), vomiting, collapse, even coma or death.

TIP #3 Prevent or treat heatstroke! Keep your pup hydrated (no ice, just cool water or ice cream), then bring him or her into the shade, pour cold water on your dog (start from the bottom up, feet, pads, stomach), and fan your dog to keep the coat from evaporating.

TIP #4 Avoid exercising your dog during the day, rather, exercise him or her in the morning or at night. It’s ok to decrease the intensity of exercise in higher temperatures. Carry a bottle of water on walks or strap it to your dog’s vest or bag so he or she feels a sense of purpose. An even better form of exercise in the heat is swimming! Let your dog paddle around in the ocean, the lake, the river or the pool.

TIP #5 Groom your dog to remove excess hair and undercoat. Be careful! Direct sun exposure can lead to burns if hair is too short or skin is exposed. Consult your grooming professional for expert advise.

TIP #6 Create a cool environment in the house or backyard even without A/C. Lay down a cool towel for your dog to lay on, offer a safe place for digging, or set up a kiddie pool. Try filling up an old milk jug with water and freeze overnight. Then leave it in the yard or house where your dog can cozy up to it for relief.

Again, the most important thing is to keep your dog hydrated, so make sure he or she can access the water bowl, which should be kept topped up with fresh cool water often. Enjoy the sunshine safely when you know your dog is happy and healthy!