In Suzi's Words

A little bit of laughter, inspiration, & encouragement

Archive for the category “In The Dog House”

Pet Friendly Gardens: The 5 Most Common Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants

All safe out here!

All safe out here!

Spring will soon be here (yaaay!) and the task of sprucing up and replanting our gardens is not far behind. Keep your four-legged family members in mind when shopping for new plant materials for your garden as some can be deadly.

Toxic Plants

Listed here are five of the most common toxic plants and the red flags to watch for should your pet snack on one.

  • Aloe Vera (dogs and cats): vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, changes in urine color, or tremors (rare)
  • Kalanchoe (dogs and cats): drooling, nausea, vomiting, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, or death
  • Lantana (dogs and cats): depression, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or possible liver failure
  • Oleander dogs, cats, horses, cows, and birds): drooling, nausea, vomiting, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, or death
  • Sago Palm (dogs and cats): vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abnormal fluid accumulation in abdomen, abnormal pain, jaundice, or black-tarry stool

Consult the Pet Poison Helpline website for a complete list and details of toxicity levels

Safe Plants

The good news is there is a wide variety of gorgeous to choose from that will provide you with a beautifully landscaped garden that are non-toxic to animals.

  • Alyssum: also known as American Rubber Plant, Pepper Face or Baby Rubber Face
  • Acreca Palm:  also known as Golden Butterfly Palm, Cane Palm, Golden Feather Palm, or Yellow Palm
  • Bottlebrush: also known as Callistemon, Red Bottlebrush, Lemon Bottlebrush, or Crimson Bottlebrush
  • Canna Lily: also known as Cannaceae, Garden Canna, Canna Generalis
  •  Impatiens Plant: also known as Inpatients, Jewelweed, Snapweed, or Busy Lizzy

This is just a small sampling of toxic and non-toxic plants. The Pet Poison Helpline hosts an extensive and detailed list of plants that are toxic to animals and how to recognize if your pet has plant poisoning. Check this list for plants that are common in your climate or consult an expert at your local nursery and plant wisely.

What to do if your pet has consumed poisonous plant material

If you fear your pet may have eaten one of these plants:

  • Remove your pet from the plant area
  • Ensure they are safe (breathing and acting normally)
  • Do NOT give them a homemade poison remedy
  • Do NOT induce vomiting
  • Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800.213.6680 for guidance (open 24/7)
  • Contact your vet or local emergency pet hospital immediately

Keep your pets safe and enjoy your garden this spring and summer together!


Christmas Jar Destination!

My Christmas Jar

My Christmas Jar Starter January 2013

Last December I sent out a challenge to all of you to start a Christmas jar.  This new Christmas tradition for me was born after reading the book Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright. I was so deeply touched by Wright’s story, I immediately started my own jar in January of this year.

Every time I had lose change, I would throw it in my jar not knowing who the recipient would be. I knew God would let me know when the time came.

Well the time is here! I prayed over my Christmas jar in anticipation of where my coins would go. I’m happy to report I have my recipient!

Yaaaaay! My mom is helping dogs get rescued from puppy mills!

Yaaaaay! My mom is helping dogs get rescued from puppy mills!

In memory of  my sweet Chica who passed away November 10th I have donated my coins to the Coins for Canines program at National Mill Dog Rescue. Chica would be happy to know our coins that we saved all year will be going to an organization that helps doggies.

Did you save your coins this year? Please let us know where you were led to donate them!

Wishing you all an exceptionally Merry Christmas. May the love of the Lord fill your home to the rafters as we celebrate His birthday!

Thanksgiving Dinner Goes to the Dogs

thanksgiving-dog-dinnerSharing Thanksgiving’s bounty with the furrier members of the family may seem like quite a treat for them. But the usual Thanksgiving fare can be harmful to your pet. Keep your dog safe by making a few small adjustments to his/her menu that will better suit your dog’s palette and tummy.

  1. Be sure to remove the skin from the turkey you give your dog and don’t cover it with heavy, fat laden gravy. Otherwise, turkey is really good for dogs.
  2. If your pet isn’t used to people food, just add a little turkey and plain vegetables to their regular dog food.
  3. Dairy, salt, pepper, and herbs may be too much for your dog to handle. While preparing your family’s vegetables dishes, set aside some cooked potatoes, carrots, or sweet potatoes before adding anything to them. Keep it plain and simple.
  4. Believe it or not, turkey bones are not good for dogs. They are hollow inside and splinter easily when chewed. If your dog swallows a sharp piece of broken bone, it can perforate his/her intestinal tract or cause a blockage.
  5. Desert – sometimes the best part of Thanksgiving dinner! Pumpkin is very good for dogs, but not when baked in a pie with dairy and spices. Baked pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree (no pie spices) will be a good alternative. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top; it has many health benefits for dogs and people.

Veterinarians report an increase in canine digestive issues after the holidays from shared family meals. Make it a safe and yummy Thanksgiving for the whole family by following these 5 easy tips or purchasing pre-packaged, healthy dog food.

Published: November 2013

Client: Vintage Nursery

6 Tips to Help Your Dog Stay Cool This Summer

dog in sunglasses

If your dog is used to being in the yard all day, take heed; heat stroke is an all too common cause of death among the four-legged members of our families. Tweaking your routine for the summer is easier than you think…….

Early morning walks. Exercise is important for your dog’s well-being year round. But hitting the trails in 100+ degrees is not good for either of you. If you usually walk twice a day, leave a little earlier in the morning and extend the walk. Then shorten the evening walk or skip it all together on the hottest of days.

Water, water, and more water. Each morning fill your dog’s water bowl with clean, cool water. As the day heats up, replace the warmer water in outdoor water bowls with fresh, cool water or throw a couple of ice cubes into the bowl. Keeping outdoor bowls in the shade helps as well. Empty the bowl at night and wash it once a week to deter moss growth and mosquitoes.

Too hot for you means too hot for them.Once it hits 110 degrees, let’s face it, no one wants to be outdoors, even in the shade. That is especially true for our furry friends. Dogs cool themselves by panting; replacing their warm body temperature for cool air. When the outside air is not significantly cooler than the dog’s body temperature, their natural cooling system will not work and heat stroke can occur. The desert heat can be brutal and deadly for pets. Bring your dog inside and share the A/C love.

Take the plunge! Most dogs love to swim. If you have a pool, super! If not, setting up a small kiddie pool for them to splash around in (in clean, cool water) is always a treat on warm days. Like the water bowls, empty the pool when not in use to avoid mosquitoes and a slimy green bottom. Tip: keep your dog’s nails trimmed and have a patch kit on hand.

We all scream for ice cream. There is nothing like a frozen treat on a hot day. Dogs think so too. Making frozen doggie treats is easy and your dog will love you even more; if that’s even possible. Dog Tripper has some great recipes for easy to make pooch-smoothies and pupsicles.

Ahhh… Dogs love to lay on cool surfaces. Keeping your dog clean and cool is easier on a Cool Pet Pad; a gel pad that absorbs your dog’s body heat, or Cooleroo Dog Beds; an elevated bed that keeps your dog off the hard ground and allows air to flow beneath their body, keeping them cooler.

A cool dog is a happy, healthy dog.

Tweak away!

Published: September 2013

Client: Vintage Nursery

Skype Your Dog

by Chica

A new rap song? A new hip-hop singer?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But my super snoop investigative nose tells me something is up and I had better get on the case and find out what a Skype is.



A Little Back Story

My mom’s been acting a little strange lately. For the past couple of days, when she got home, she asked me about my day as usual; but it wasn’t “how was your day?” or “Did you miss me?”; you know, the usual human chatter. No, she’s been saying things like “what did you do with that big cookie you took off the counter this morning? You know that’s not for you.”, “what were you doing up on the couch?”, and “you know you’re not supposed to be barking at the cat in the window next door.” How does she know these things?! Did she ditch work for super snoop classes of her own?

The Jig is up!

As soon as the car left the driveway, my super snooper kicked into high gear. I sniffed every piece of furniture, every potted plant, and every counter top in the place. As soon as my four furry feet hit the desktop, I knew I had hit pay dirt! The computer was on and there I was in all my glory, standing on the desktop watching me, watching ME – rut row – busted again. She did take a surveillance class – that sneak!

My Mom’s New Trick

Figuring I was already in trouble for being on the desk, I started rummaging through a few folders and found this…….


And I thought I was the P.I. in the family! Looks like she called in a couple of recruits too, Angella Watterson and Rebecca Clark from The Thought Pantry – rats! Must be some kind of spy ring.

Where’s the trust, mom?! OK, I get it…. On the couch, Bogarting the big cookie, yappin’ at that &*%#!  cat, and now on the desk with papers and folders all over the floor. Sigh.

Who the heck is Sparky anyway? That’s what I want to know – the traitor! Well, at least I cracked the case, uncovered my mom’s secret, and discovered what a Skype is. I also figured out that this Skype guy can only see what’s in front of him. (Insert dastardly smile here.)

Now for a few games of my own; he he he he he……….

LaptopChica is a world class reporter and cover girl. Stay tuned for more of her captivating ‘tails’ of trick undercover work and investigative reporting.

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The Ultimate Work-out Buddy for the Whole Family

Tennis ball machine

According to Statistic Brain, three of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions are health improvement related. Gym memberships increase by 30% in January, as eager to get in shape individuals crowd into neighborhood gyms, waiting their turn on the treadmills and weight machines. Those who prefer working out at home to avoid the grunting, groaning, waiting, and sweaty odor of a crowded gym, opt to purchase home equipment; usually a treadmill for a more private work out in a more ambient atmosphere. Treadmills account for over 33% of home exercise equipment purchases and almost 50% of home exercise equipment retail sales. Yet, only 8% of us stick to our declaration to hit that treadmill running on a daily or weekly basis. Sooner, rather than later, jumping on that big in-the-way machine becomes monotonous and, sadly, it transforms into a great (and expensive) place to throw your robe.

If you are anything like me, you are more motivated to exercise if you have an exercise buddy to run with, swim with, or play a sport with. Many days, however, it is hard to find someone to “play” with. We all have busy lives and our schedules most often do not coincide.

The solution: buddy up with a machine, which not only shows up every time, on time, doesn’t leave early, excels in patience, doesn’t whine, keeps you engrossed, and is a good enough competitor to give you the challenge you need to improve your skills; a machine which not only gives you a great work out, improves your game or teaches you a new one, but one that the entire family can utilize, even the dog! No, not a robot; good guess though! It’s a tennis ball machine.

Not just a great tennis partner, they are also excellent coaches!
The best way to improve your skills in any sport is to always play against someone better than yourself so you will be challenged and forced to step it up to the next level. Playing with the same tennis partner or a player on the same level all the time will not give you that challenge; a tennis ball machine will, as you can advance the settings as you advance your skills. Much like a tennis coach, yet more precise, tennis ball machines have the ability to send shots to you exactly where you need them and how you need them. Hitting to your backhand, forehand, close to the net, deep into the court, with various spins or no spin at all – your electronic tennis partner will be on target every time, allowing you to advance all the skills you need to be a top player on the court. Your confidence will increase as your skills increase and you grow stronger.

There’s an app for that!
Tennis ball machines have improved over the years from shooting tennis balls to you in the same exact way each time until you break your momentum to walk over and move the machine to receive the exact same shots from another angle; not much of a challenge when you know exactly what is coming next. Today’s machines allow for various shot combinations which will test and help improve all of your strokes, advance your game with precision returns, improve your agility and footwork on the court, and enhance your anticipation of the next shot – automatically.

Fluctuating from repetitive shots, say to your backhand 50 – 60 times, then switching it up to oscillation mode to improve your footwork and anticipation skills is now as easy as pushing a button on your cell phone. Lobster Sports and Bluetooth have teamed up with Android and iPhone to transform your cell phone into a remote control for your tennis ball machine.  Simply download the free app from Google Play or iTunes and you can change the settings on your tennis ball machine without having to leave your side of the court.

Take it from the pros
As the finest serve-and-volley player of all-time, Stefan Edberg, former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Sweden, and childhood idol of Roger Federer, used tennis ball machines to practice his volley. Edberg sited the tennis ball machine as the best way to practice volleys as a human challenger is unable to hit the ball to you exactly the same way and speed every time, which is necessary to perfect your stroke through repetitive practice.

Andre Agassi, former World No. 1 tennis player, the best service returner in tennis, and named seventh greatest male player of all time in 2010 by Sport’s Illustrated, practiced with tennis ball machines early on, which were set up on his backyard tennis court by his father, Mike.  Andre learned his exceptional abilities and return of serve by placing his tennis ball machine on a ladder for the correct angle and practiced for hours on end.

A healthy return on your investment
You know what they say, “use it or lose it”, and, according to Dr. Robert Leach,  vice chairman of the USTA Sport Science Committee, people who are active in childhood and remain active throughout their life, maintain a higher level of fitness than those who are idle.

Tennis is a great way to introduce children to sports. It improves hand-eye coordination, flexibility, mental focus, and helps them maintain a healthy weight, which decreases their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes through regular physical activity.

Kids can easily get bored or frustrated with a sport that does not challenge them enough or over challenges them, causing them to continuously fail.  A tennis ball machine can be set to match your child’s abilities to keep them interested while learning the game, and then increased to a higher level as they improve their game. The machine is always ready to play, even if their friends are not; it never tires as we humans often do, and will not get frustrated with them no matter how many times they miss the ball!

Don’t forget about the four-legged member of your family!  Your tennis ball machine will also give your dog the exercise it needs to remain healthy and happy when you don’t have time for a walk or to play ball. Look at the fun this dog is having playing fetch with his new mechanical buddy!

Tennis ball machines just might be the best piece of exercise equipment you can invest in this year to keep the whole family healthy and in shape all year long. As if that’s not enough, you will gain an added bonus – membership into the rare 8% band of individuals who actually keep a New Year’s Resolution!

Published February 2013

Client: Do It Tennis


dog cupcakes

I saw this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I have not made it yet, but just had to share it;  it’s too darn cute to keep to myself! This is people food, please don’t feed chocolate to your dog, it is toxic to them.


1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

Tan or yellow food coloring

24 Cupcakes of your choice

Milano cookies

Milk chocolate candy coating discs

Yellow and brown M&M’s

1 tube (4-1/4 ounces) black decorating icing

Tint the frosting a light tan color. Generously frost the cupcakes; mounding slightly off-center for the nose. Place the Milano cookies on the top, sticking out left and right for the ears (see photo).

Add a candy coating disc and a yellow M&M for the eyes, piping a dot of black icing for the pupil. Place a brown M&M for the nose, and create a mouth with the black icing.

Use edible “Scooby-Snacks” graham crackers for the dog bone to serve along side the cupcake.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Cook’s Note: Be creative and make your doggie cupcake any color you’d like. Maybe a look-alike to your furry friend!

My Trip to the US Open


8_12 Tennis photo shoot visorLike my visor? I got it at the U.S. Open last week.  Now I know what you’re thinking, dogs are not allowed at the U.S. Open; why do you think I’m in this Babolat tennis bag?! It pays to be small… and powerful. Besides, I figured if Pierre Djokovic can hitch a ride on his human’s coat tails and go to Wimbledon, I might as well give it a shot at the Open, right? Good news, it worked!!

Since I was traveling incognito, I was told to keep quiet and stay under the radar; I’m not quite sure what radar is but I wasn’t about to stay under anything. Once I got a glimpse of that bright yellow, fuzzy ball going back and forth on that grassy looking square below; it was heads up, ears straight and eyes wide open all the way! Boy, I sure would have liked a bite of that one! I digress.

And the winner is!

Back to the Open; it was awesome! I really wanted to meet Pierre but our seats weren’t quite that close to the action. Note to human for next year.

Keeping your eye on the ball wasn’t always easy, one time Andy Murray’s serve was clocked at 132 miles per hour! Now, I’m fast and powerful, did I mention I was powerful? But not even I can catch a ball racing through the air at 132 miles per hour; I’ll bet Pierre could catch it though, my hero, and Novak Djokovic sure caught it and sent it right back– a lot!

Andy Murray was the Grand Slam winner of the U.S. Open this year, beating Novak Djokovic in the men’s singles. It was Murray’s first Grand Slam singles title in his fifth attempt against an opponent holding five Grand Slam singles titles; and from the way everyone was on their feet and cheering, I’m guessing that is a very big thing. It’s hard to see when they do that though, “down in front!!”

Did you know that by winning that day Murray also became the first British man to win a major title since Fred Perry won the US Championships in 1936? Now that’s something to bark about!

Get your howl on for the divas!


Serena Williams beat No.1 ranked Victoria Azarenk in the women’s singles to win her fourth U.S. Open and fifteenth Grand Slam title. Adding that to her Wimbledon championship and two Olympic gold medal wins this year, makes Williams top dog in my book! Serena’s fastest serve clocked in at 125 miles per hour and what I really like about her is she bounces the tennis ball five times before her first serve, five times! I looked like a bobble-head watching that ball.

Climbing into that Babolat tennis bag and going to the U.S. Open was one of the best assignments this undercover reporter has ever had.Even if I didn’t get to meet the sweet Pierre.

But, you know what the best part about going to a tennis match is though….

LOVE – they are always talking about love there. Something we dogs invented.

Babolat tennis bag, US Open, dog, Chihuahua


Chica is a world class on-site reporter and cover girl. Stay tuned for more of  her riveting ‘tales’ of Cracker Jack undercover work and investigative reporting.

Published September 2012

Client: Do It Tennis

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