Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I have grown to loathe Valentine’s Day. What happened to the cheap, punny cards and chalky, candy hearts of my childhood? When did the holiday become so commercialized? Why do you have to go into debt on over-priced flowers and fancy dinners to show someone you love them? It’s awful! Even the pet industry has gotten into the game. But before you spend any money on that heart shaped squeaky toy or rhinestone studded collar, stop and ask yourself: "Why am I doing this?" and "Does my puppy care?" Petsmart says your dog wants this stuff, but I’m sure your dog would rather just have quality time with you. Aren’t dogs great?! Here are 10 simple ways to show your dog you love him without spending a fortune. (P.S. They can be used anytime, not just on Valentine’s Day.)
  • Turn off the TV and step away from the computer. Give your dog your undivided attention. Talk to him. Tell him about your day. He won’t understand the words, but he’ll be thrilled to hear your voice. On the plus side, he’ll always agree with you. According to Jedi: yes, my boss was being unreasonable yesterday; I am the best Animal Control officer in the entire world; and I totally deserve a raise.
  • Be Silly. I once read that dogs enjoy a Three Stooges slapstick-type humor. True or not, I believe that dogs do have a sense of humor. I know they respond to laughter. I’m talking about real belly laughs, not that fake stuff you show to the in-laws. (Dogs can tell the difference.) And I may be anthropomorphizing, but I'd swear that dogs smile when happy.
  • Play a game. Fetch, tag, tug-o-war, chase the laser pointer -- it doesn’t matter what you play. Just play. Looking for a new game? Purina has a few fun ideas. 
  • Take a walk. I'm not talking about the “hurry up and pee” walk, or the “I need some exercise” walk that we're all familiar with. Take a DOG walk. Put away your cell phone and enjoy the moment. Stop and smell the flowers -- or whatever you feel like sniffing. Your dog will love it!
  • Find the sweet spot. You know what I'm talking about: that one spot that makes your dog’s feet kick and tongue loll? Every dog has one. Pepper’s was at the base of her tail. Logan would actually groan during ear massages. Roxy loves her belly rubbed and Jedi can’t stay still when you scratch his back. Where is your dog’s sweet spot?
  • Go out for a burger. When the weather is nice we like to go to Sonic. We’ll sit at a far table under the awning. Hubby and I enjoy people watching while the dogs split a plain cheeseburger and cup of water (no ice). If we go between 2-4 PM, I can get a lemon-berry slush for half price! Cheap date, hunh? Want something fancier? Al's Pizza and Joseph's Pizza in Atlantic Beach allow dogs on outdoor patios. Both restaurants have excellent food, serve wine, and are within walking distance of the ocean. ACO NOTE: If you’re taking your dogs to the beach, stay on Atlantic Beach (the north side of Atlantic Blvd). Neptune Beach (south of Atlantic Blvd) does not allow dogs during the day. I’d hate for your doggie date to be ruined by a $50 ticket.
  • Set up a play date. Does your dog have a canine BFF? Why not invite the dog and his owner over for some butt sniffing (the dogs) and margaritas (the humans)? We have friends that Hubby, Jedi and I visit regularly, though not as often as I would like. Friends have four shepherds of their own, so their house is very dog-friendly (as in no crystal vases at tail level). The puppies run amok while the adults play board games.
  • Go for a ride. This is one of Roxy’s favorite pastimes. A trip around the block with her head out the window is the Best. Thing. Ever. Want bonus points? End up at the park or pet store.
  • Learn a new trick. This is a great bonding experience for the two of you. Your dog wants to please you. Seeing you happy because he figured out “roll over” will make his day. Need ideas for tricks? Check out Janet Wall's site or one of the many books from Kyra Sundance.
  • Take an afternoon nap together. Spoiler alert: I let my dogs in bed with me. There’s not enough room for two big dogs and two not-so-small humans to fit comfortably all night. However, there is plenty of room for one human and two dogs to enjoy an hour-long nap. I’d like to think that we all benefit from the closeness of sleeping together. 
So, are you feeling inspired? GOOD! Now get off the computer and go spend some time with your dog! Come back later and share your favorite ways to spend time with your dog. Until then, -- K