She’s Got the Power – The Magic of Dogs

An article contributed by Carrie Gauthier.

She never understood people who didn’t like animals. Or, people that freak out over a little dog hair on the couch. Or the ones who are so into their material possessions, they have their cats declawed to prevent them from scratching the furniture.


She loved all animals. Equal opportunity employer. Although she was a native cat lover. But she switches teams. Her mom’s Dog, Lady, for instance. Set up the scene: two adult women come back together after having been separated by over 3,500 miles, many years, and a very complex mother-daughter relationship. Both wearing walls of armor, every conversation, an argument for the defense. Impasse. Stalemate. Game over.

But then, Lady. Lady was the common denominator, the release. The greatest unconditional love the Mother had known for the last tumultuous decade of her life. The constant one that never. Let. Her. Down.

For the daughter, Lady was the Wild Card. The magic trick without the smoke and mirrors. To stare down into her muddy brown eyes, raw, primitive, pure, untainted. And that night in a sleeping bag on the floor, in a new place, before furniture, the night terror that gripped her, yanked her psyche from a place so low in her gut, fear so profound it paralyzed her. In she trotted merrily, Lady did, delivering three whimsical kisses to the cheek before happily turning and trotting away, light as air. The spell broken, just like that, the daughter laughed out loud. Recovered. The power of a dog.

What would these innocent creatures do with this information? They are not just our companions. At the parks, in the woods, on our boats, in our backyards, on our beds, we’ve been overrun by these little magicians. What would we do without their innocence, their unquestioning loyalty, their pure naked joy? A polar contrast to the seriousness and artificiality of the world. If our dogs were able to process information as humans do, and if they could grasp the expectations we have for them, would they run screaming? Well, barking. Howling?

On some very simple level, the dogs, they understand. They have to. They know all about our neediness. And they’re okay with it. Lady likes it just fine, because she is pure love. Just like the slightly bruised love—restored—between a mother and her daughter.


5 Reasons You Should Own a Keeshond

Originally published on The Fluid Lens.

First, let’s discuss the name. It’s weird, granted, and it’s both hard to pronounce and to spell. It’s said “kayz-hond,” according to Wikipedia, and if you’ve got more than one of them, it becomes the highfalutin Keeshonden. Be warned: if you own a Keeshond, you are entering the battlefield of pronunciations. Everyone says it a little differently, and most everyone will try to correct you for saying it “wrong.” Samoyed owners understand.


History Lesson

You’ve probably never heard of a Keeshond before, and you’re not alone, as breeders are few and far between. The Keeshond is designated as being a medium-sized dog with a luscious coat and a personality that is not easily forgotten. It’s debated as to whether the Keeshond originated in Germany or in the Netherlands, but it is generally agreed that for the most part the Keeshond was bred to be a barge watchdog for Dutch ships.


What’s the Big Deal?

Keeshonden, while admittedly not for everyone, are dogs for almost anyone. They are tremendous companion animals willing to traverse mountains, oceans, and apartment staircases for their owners. The following are five of the main reasons you should pick up a Keeshond the next time you’re in the Netherlands.


1. The Coat

Keeshonden have a two-layer coat that is of silver, tan, and black colors. Aesthetically speaking, it’s a gorgeous ruff of fur and they constantly receive compliments while out and about from other dog owners. The Keeshond coat sheds, but not horrendously, making them ideal indoor family members. However, it does require a good deal of brushing, as instead of shedding the coat will become matted with the extra hair. The nice thing about brushing out a Keeshond, despite the time it takes to do so, is that you can instantly see the results. A Keeshond’s coat, when well-maintained, is undeniably magnificent.

2. The Intelligence

Keeshonden rank 16th in Stanley Coren’s published book The Intelligence of DogsThey are quite intelligent and are apt to do well in agility and obedience trials. Potty training a Keeshond is infinitely easier than potty training a less intelligent dog, as they are quick to understand what you need and are even quicker in wanting to do what you desire them to do. They do well with tricks and it takes barely any repetition and not too many treats to convince them that they should sit, shake, lay down, speak, or roll over.

3. The Health

Keeshonden are not known for having any dramatically detrimental health problems. The breeding line, because they are relatively uncommon in the United States, has remained reasonably pure and genetic issues stemming from puppy mills and other unethical breeding practices have not generally caused havoc with the breed.

4. The Size

Whether you’re in an apartment or a home with five acres, the Keeshond is the happy middling ground for dog sizes. Keeshonden are usually around 40 pounds at maximum growth, and a lot of that is their opulent coat. They fit snugly onto laps and couches, but they are big enough to go camping, climbing, or running with outdoor enthusiasts.

5. The Personality

Once you’ve met a Keeshond, you can never quite go back. They are playful, loving, ambitious, smart, and generally just happy. They have been nicknamed “the smiling dog” because, most often, their faces are cracked open in huge, panting, doggy smiles. It’s difficult to dampen a Keeshond’s spirits and they are most pleased when they can be cuddled up with their humans or- even better- playing with them.


No Turning Back

Keeshonden are uncommon dogs and it’s surprising that that has remained the case. They are a lovely breed that has innumerable shining qualities making them wonderful family companions that stick around for a long time. If you have a chance, visit someone with a Keeshond- you might find yourself falling in love sooner than you realized.


Doggie Disneylands: 3 Off Leash Dog Parks in the Greater Seattle Area

Originally published on The Fluid Lens.


Walking your dog is great and all, but there’s nothing like the satisfying “click” of releasing his or her leash from their collar and letting them fly across a natural landscape with utter freedom. There’s not always time to haul your mutt to an off-leash dog park, but when there is, you know you want to be going to the right place. Fortunately, the Pacific Northwest is exceptionally pet-friendly. In Washington, there are a plethora of off-leash dog parks practically right outside your door. For those of you living in the Redmond, Snohomish, and Edmonds areas, here are three of the best parks to take your adventurous and furry companion.


  1. Marymoor Dog Park

While all three of these parks have their own unique amenities, Marymoor is by far the most expansive and impressive. Located in Redmond, the Marymoor Park includes a variety of different areas for recreation, including a massive off-leash dog park running alongside the Sammamish River. The Marymoor Dog Park covers over 40 acres of land and has 5 individual sites where dogs have access to the river itself to swim, drink, and be otherwise rowdy.

Six miles of looped trails make sure that not only the dogs but the owners get their exercise, and if you’re a human that likes to socialize, you’re in for a treat: Marymoor is typically highly populated. It costs $1 to park in the Marymoor parking lot, but this is a tiny fee in comparison to the huge reward waiting for you in the park itself. Refuse baggies and trash cans are available in multiple areas across the park to keep the grounds free of unpleasant surprises.


  1. Off Leash Area Edmonds

If you were looking for a more salty and watery trip, take your fuzzy friend to the Marina Beach in Edmonds. At the southernmost tip of the beach you will find the fenced-off “Off Leash Area Edmonds,” which is a dog park run strictly by volunteers. Out of the three this is by far the smallest park, but it is also the only park that offers ocean access.  Furthermore, it is the only park located (safely) next to railroad tracks, upon which impressive trains come hurtling across on occasion. Parking is free but sometimes difficult when the weather is nice and there are tons of people out and about.

Bags and trashcans are available at this location as well. There is also a pump and multiple dishes to keep your dog hydrated with fresh water. The area is completely fenced off and you enter first through two small gates onto a sandy, gravelly area where dogs are free to run. This area quickly slopes downwards into a rocky beach and on into the water of the Puget Sound. Let Fido roam, romp, and play while you dreamily watch sailboats, ferries, and kayakers pass by in the watery distance. Or, when the weather is bearable, swim along with your dog in the salty sea.


  1. Willis D. Tucker Park Dog Park

This off-leash dog park, similar to Marymoor, is located within a larger recreational park (Willis D. Tucker Community Park). There is no fee to park, and you will not often have problems finding a place to do so. The Willis D. Tucker Park Dog Park features three distinct sections for Spot to play. The first section that you come upon from the parking lot is the 1.25-acre forest area, filled with towering trees and meandering dirt paths. Take your rain boots with you for this area, for when there have been reoccurring rain showers it can get quite muddy.

Past the forest trails lies a 6-acre meadow area, the center of which features multiple water dishes (which you must fill yourself) and refuse bags. Outside of the fenced area are dumpsters where you can rid yourself of your pet’s unwanted presents. Next to the meadow area and nestled inside of the forest trails is a fenced-off shy dog area, which is dedicated exclusively to low-impact dogs who want a nice quiet playtime.


Rain or Shine

No matter where you go or what the weather’s like, your dog will love you for taking them outdoors. Be cautious and alert at all times while at off-leash dog parks to make sure that everyone is having a rip-roaring and safe time. Whether you’re roving across the sandy beaches of Edmonds, the sprawling trails of Marymoor, or the forested paths of Willis D. Tucker, you and your dog are bound to have a great day out of the house.