Time to Say Goodbye

All of us moms and dads of fur babies know that there will inevitably, as Andrea Bocelli so beautifully sings, a time to say goodbye.

Having been in this business almost 12 years, I have shared the heartbreak of owners when I learn that dogs who have visited me for years or even months have crossed the rainbow bridge.

I would like to honor and acknowledge those who have passed away in 2019.



Abbey was deaf and almost blind, so being in a new place was a struggle for her. Fortunately, she had her big brother Mac who constantly stayed by her side. Mac’s dedication to Abbey’s welfare was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve observed. It saddens me that Abbey only visited twice before she was gone but I am grateful for the short time I knew her.



Eddie was just a mess of nerves for his first few visits but eventually learned he was in a place where he would get hugs and kisses all day. Eddie loved to be carried around on his back like a baby and perhaps his favorite time of the day was when it was time for lights out and he would climb up the ramp to my bed and curl up next to my pillow. He was one of the rare dogs I was able to say goodbye to before he was to be put to sleep the next day. I thank his mom for that opportunity.



Forest was almost white as snow. Like all Chihuahuas, he loved his lap time. Forest was an elder to the pack and felt no need to join in when the rest of the gang started barking. I thought of Forest as stately but also a bundle of love and he always joined the other Chihuahuas under the covers when it was bedtime. He, along with those others, guaranteed I would never get cold at night.



Dachsunds never fail to entertain me and Frank was no different. He had this adorable wiggle that just cracked me up every time I watched him walk away. Frank was always accompanied by his sidekick Lola and, like every dachshund that has visited, the two would “burrito” up with the blankets. They were not content to just go under, Frank and Lola had to make sure they were wrapped up tight, just like a burrito. 



As one of the dogs who came to visit the longest, I watched Kia grow up. Her family went though some hard times but it never affected Kia when she came to visit. She seemed to be smiling all the time and I don’t think I have any pictures where she wasn’t. Kia stayed more of often with my colleague Lanette as she moved into her senior years and developed health problems. I was grateful my friend was there because with an average of six guests at any one time, I could not have given Kia the care she needed. 



A tiny blonde Chihuahua, Martini stole my heart from her very first visit. I would often joke with her mom when she came to pick her up that Martini was welcome to stay here forever. Her mom knew I meant it and ended up putting me in her will as Martini’s permanent caregiver if anything should happen to her. Her mom sent me a card with a painting of Martini on the cover. The artist captured her eyes perfectly.

The Fabulist Tale of Maddie


The fabulist tale of Maddie begins on a sunny beach in Florida. 

Maddie was a beautiful Boykin spaniel who loved nothing more than to go out on the ocean with her human. Day after day, Maddie’s mom would take her kayak into the water and when it was deep enough, the two would jump in. Maddie sat in the very front of the kayak with her bright yellow life jacket on and as her mom rowed, the breeze would ruffle the spaniel’s long brown ears. They would stay out for an hour or so and saw dolphins and otters and sea lions and one time, they even saw a giant whale!

One day as the two were out on the water, a sudden wind came up. Maddie’s mom paddled to shore as quickly as she could but before they could reach it, the kayak tipped over and both were tossed into the water. Her mom clung to the side of their little boat while Maddie swam as fast as she could to the shore and she started to bark as soon as her paws touched the sand. People gathered around because they knew the spaniel came out of the water by herself and they couldn’t see any humans nearby. But one looked out to sea and saw a little speck. He knew it was Maddie’s human so he jumped into his motorboat and before you knew it, she was safe on the boat and heading back to her fur baby.

Once on shore, Maddie’s mom hugged and cried and kissed her precious one while everyone surrounding them clapped and cheered. Because she was so strong and brave and smart they asked Maddie if she would like to be an official lifeguard. Maddie barked, which meant yes, so her mom took off the yellow life jacket and put a bright red one on her that said “lifeguard.” And ever since then, Maddie was known as the hero dog!



Put Barryland on That Bucket List!

martigny, home of Barryland


All St. Bernard owners, perhaps all dog owners, should put Barryland on that bucket list. Located in the small town Martigny at the base of the Swiss Alps, it’s a museum dedicated to St. Bernard dogs and features history, art, films and of course, an awesome gift shop.

The museum is named in honor of Barry, a St. Bernard who rescued 40 travelers  stranded in the snow and bitter cold.


bas-relief of Abyssinian war dog

Travelers trekked 8,000 feet up the Alps to journey from north to south of Europe. That winter temperatures could drop to 35 below zero did not seem to deter them.  The St. Bernard Hospice, a monastery, served as a place to rest before continuing. In this case, “hospice” meant that all were welcome, whether royalty or beggars.

Each night the monks would venture out with dogs particularly adapted to the climate in search of stragglers and the lost who attempted to cross the pass in winter. St. Bernards can pick up scents through 20 inches of snow and directed searchers who brought bottles of brandy to revive the near-dead. By the way, no St. Bernard ever wore a keg around its neck. That was a fanciful addition to some artist’s painting and the breed has been stuck with it ever since.

The St. Bernard symbolizes Switzerland and their likeness is found everywhere from fine art,  on cookie tins, candy bars and other products to remind tourists where they came from.  


what St. Bernards originally looked like before intensive breeding

It’s thought that the breed descended from  the Abyssinian war dog and photos from the 1800s show what St. Bernards looked like before breeders deformed them to fit some arbitrary standard. Like all purebreds, they are the product of inbreeding which has resulted  in a host of health problems; hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat (The stomach twists on itself and 30% to 60% cases result in death), eye problems and bone cancer to name a few and now have lifespan of only eight to ten years. 


St. Bernards grace dozens of Swiss products

The Barryland gift shop was my favorite attraction and it’s where I got my St. Bernard t-shirt, St. Bernard socks and a couple of cowbells (not St. Bernard related but I wanted them anyways). Here’s hoping you get a chance to visit this awesome place.

The Fabulist Tale of Benny and Eleanor

The fabulist tale of Benny and Eleanor begins in New Orleans,

where they pranced and danced in Mardi Gras’ biggest parade. They saw each other as one of the floats passed by and knew they were destined to become best friends. An odd pair, those two; tiny Benny with long golden ears and stately Eleanor, her grey fur that shone like polished metal.

Life was good in the Big Easy. They feasted on discarded étouffees, Po’boys and beignets and the Mississippi river nearby provided their water. But Benny and Eleanor knew they lived on borrowed time. If the dog catcher swept them up, that would be the end. One day the two friends overheard a child ask her mother if they could go to the circus. Benny and Eleanor looked at each other and set out on their search. Eleanor spotted the giant red and white striped tent first and trotted towards it as Benny fell in behind.

They found the ringmaster, who instantly saw their appeal. The man was kind and patient and taught them a multitude of tricks. They were smart, fast learners and, as the Big Top’s main attraction, knew they would soon be famous. The big day finally arrived and the tent was packed. Benny emerged first, sitting up on his hind legs on the back of a beautiful white pony that galloped around and around the ring. He jumped off when Eleanor ran out and they performed a most beautiful tango. The crowd screamed and clapped as the two showed off more tricks and each one brought more cheers. As Benny and Eleanor predicted, they were now stars.

The circus traveled across the country and the Crescent City Duo, as they were called, were always greeted enthusiastically. One day the two spotted a couple in the audience and they felt something special. Benny and Eleanor waited outside after the show was over and followed the man and woman to their car, who both turned around and smiled. Benny and Eleanor knew their traveling days were over. It was time to go home.

The Fabulist Tale of Lucy

The fabulist tale of Lucy begins in Hollywood, the most glamorous city in all the world.

She spent her days and nights in a big lot where television and movies were made. The famous movie stars all knew Lucy and made sure there were bowls of food and water left out for her. Lucy slept in a room that no one used where a soft bed waited for her when it was time to go to sleep.

Lucy often watched the actors as they performed on different stages. Sometimes the men would dress up as cowboys and ride past on horses, or dress as knights in shining armor and pretend to fight each other with swords. Women in beautiful gowns walked by and even children showed up to play their parts. They petted Lucy and rubbed her belly, which she loved most of all.

Lucy’s favorite show was about a Cuban bandleader who was married to a very funny redheaded lady. At least Lucy thought she must have been funny because the audience laughed at almost everything she said. The handsome man often said, “Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!” But the line Lucy waited for every day was when he walked through the door, put his hat on a hook and said loudly, “Lucy, I’m home!” The redheaded lady would come out of the kitchen or wherever she was and give him a big hug.

One day, the husband came home and said again, “Lucy, I’m home!” The little dog could not contain herself anymore. When she heard her name, she ran onto the set and jumped in his arms.

He was surprised, but then started laughing. The audience laughed, too. His wife came out, looked at the two and said, “I think our house needs two Lucys.”

She went home with them and became famous herself for now, too, she was on television! 

The Fabulist Tale of Mac and Abbey


The Fabulist Tale of Mac and Abbey begins almost one thousand years ago in the village of Assisi.

Along with the birds and rabbits and deer and honey bees, Mac and Abbey gathered every morning around a man they knew as Francis. Everyone in the forest loved him because Francis so dearly loved them back. This man lived simply in what remained of a ruined church and was often found writing in his journal.

One day Francis turned to them and began to speak. The birds and rabbits and deer and honey bees listened, but Mac and Abbey knew the man who was surrounded by beautiful golden light was talking just to them.

He told Mac and Abbey that dogs were created to bring joy and light and hope when their people were sad. They must forgive, no matter how much their humans may fail them. And most important, they were to love their humans with all their heart.

Mac and Abbey left Assisi and set out to teach these lessons to other dogs. They made sure their puppies understood that they were to comfort their humans when they were sad, assure them that everything would be okay and, most importantly, to let them know every day, every moment, how much they were loved. Those puppies passed the knowledge on to their puppies and their puppies passed it on to their puppies and so it went. A thousand years later, every dog in the world lived like Francis. Humans tried to, but they could not do it perfectly like dogs.

Mac and Abbey grew old and tired, just like the birds and deer and rabbits and honey bees and yes, even Francis. It was time for Abbey to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Heartbroken, Mac soon followed and the two were once again reunited. They discovered there was indeed a doggy heaven, which turned out to be the home of a mom, dad and two children that loved Mac and Abbey just as much Francis had once loved them. The best friends continued to teach the importance of love to all the dogs they met until the end of their days.

Why Pet Owners Don’t Get Insurance


Should You Have Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance for a pet that will likely be with you for 10 to 17 years seems like it would be a no-brainer. However, the majority of the dog people I know don’t have it. The reason why pet owners don’t get insurance is psychological. We tend to focus on the immediate convenience or inconvenience; the cost of monthly premiums instead of calculating the future effects of our current decision. Maybe your pet will never suffer a devastating illness or accident that can cost thousands of dollars to treat. But then again…

Plenty of dog owners do, having forked out $1.2 billion in premiums in 2017. Though that sounds like a lot, consider that 60% of households own dogs and another 47% own cats. Once the decision is made, research can help find which one is right for you. Consumers Advocate offers an easy way to compare cost as well as consumer ratings.


Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws gathered the highest rating. The monthly premium for a 3-year-old mixed-breed dog is around $29 with a $250 deductible per year. Another benefit that sets Healthy Paws apart from many others is that there is no cap on how much they will pay. The second highest rated insurance is Pet Plan. For the same dog, the premium is $37/month, a $500 deductible and annual cap of $2,500.

I asked Joey Santaella, outreach specialist for Consumers Advocate, why he thought insurance was important.

“Pet insurance helps protect both the pet and the owner by granting access to life-saving treatments and surgeries that otherwise might be too expensive for the owner to afford. Having pet insurance can literally be a life-saver.”

The History and Future of the Santa Cruz SPCA

Santa Cruz has been fortunate to have our SPCA since 1938, when it was founded by Dr. Charles Edward Graves, the county’s first small-animal veterinarian.

Doc Graves and Santa Cruz SPCA Ambulance
Doctor Graves and the Santa Cruz SPCA Ambulance


A Bit of History

In the past 20 years or so, there’s been some confusion over the difference between the SPCA and Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. That’s understandable. First, the SPCA was once located 2200 7th Avenue in Santa Cruz, where the County’s animal shelter is now. Additionally, SPCA contracted with the county to perform both animal rescue and enforcement services fromSanta Cruz SPCA 1955 to 2002. The current animal shelter, which is a separate entity, is officially known as the Animal Services Authority. Operated by the County of Santa Cruz, the county’s animal control officers investigate reports of animal abuse or neglect and enforce regulations. The shelter is also required to accept every unwanted animal: dogs, cats, chickens, goats, donkeys, etc.

Current Status

Alison “Ali” Talley, SPCA’s executive director since November of 2018, explains that the SPCA is a non-profit organization and relies solely on donations, bequests and other private sources of funding. Its main objective is rescue, adoption, education and community assistance and, because of space, is limited to accepting only dogs and cats. Some people still refer to the SPCA as a “no-kill” shelter, a term based in ignorance and moral superiority, as opposed to the Animal Services, which has no control on the limit of animals they take in. At their present location, 2685 Chanticleer Ave., the SPCA can accommodate approximately 60 dogs and cats. It relies on 15 staff members and approximately 300 volunteers to keep the organization running smoothly.

Future New Facility

But, changes are on their way. Ground has already been broken for a new facility at 2601 Chanticleer Avenue, and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. Six times the size of the current shelter, it will be specifically designed for stress reduction and the wellbeing of animals. Cats will be happier in their “catios” and group housing instead of cages. The SPCA will also be able to rescue medium and large dogs, which they are unable to do now. Said Ali, “We are tremendously excited about our next phase and being able to save more lives at our forever home.”

For more information, check out the webpage for the new shelter campaign  or call 831-465-5000, ext. 19.

Off Leashers: Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

Off Leash Dog

Perhaps human nature has always been this way: blame the cop who issues a ticket to one who drives 80 in a 40mph zone. The teacher who has it in for the parent’s child even with documented instances of misbehavior. And people who walk their dogs off leash who feel unfairly targeted by those hired to enforce the law. I sometimes wonder if it’s hard-wired in us to deny our culpability and shoot the messenger instead.

Sanctioned places for dogs to play off-leash Santa Cruz County leave much to be desired. The County has a list on their website and the majority are fenced-in dog parks. As a result, many dog owners do what I did years before I started my business: we said screw the law and took off the leash. My favorite was 20th Avenue; I was down there most mornings and often ran into the same people. As a result, I have friendships that are still going strong.

Be they friends or acquaintances, there were two favorite topics when we struck up a conversation. Our dogs, of course, but inevitably we managed to work in the injustice of county legal codes that denied the right of our fur babies to frolic untethered. But another rather disturbing view sometimes threaded its way through and that was blame leveled at the animal control (AC) officers personally. They went out of their way to hunt down dog owners who were just having a good time and really, harming no one. Wouldn’t those men and women’s time be better spent finding real problems to address?

And those who were ticketed. Oh, the outrage. One person I knew didn’t even try to hide his hatred of AC officers, referring to them as thugs, Nazis, the Gestapo. It led me to wonder if anybody ever sucked it up, took their licks and perhaps gone so far as to apologize for ignoring the law.

I got a warning up at Blue Ball park and it never occurred to me to get in the officer’s face. I’m not saying I’m all superior or anything, but I do hope to avoid being one more jerk (at least in this area) and self-professed victim in a world full of them.

Don’t Shoot. Take Action!

Live Oak Off Leash Association (LOOLA) was founded to work within the system to change the rules. Friends of Lighthouse Field (FOLF) was also started by those pursuing a legal solution to allow dogs off-leash. Members decided it was time to respond rather than react. As the saying goes, better to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

I’d hate to do a ride-along with those tasked to enforce the law. I know I couldn’t do what the “thugs” do without throwing up or wanting to throttle cretins who abuse animals that they probably run into on a regular basis. It’s a job. And it’s a job you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do. Writing this, I just had a radical idea. Maybe I’ll drop off some cookies for them. Maybe I’ll even write a thank you note. I seriously doubt they’ve ever been thanked in their life. Maybe it’s time.

Dog Boarding Safety: Who Can You Trust?

Happy Pup at Little Pup Lodge

Vacationers increasingly search for alternatives to kenneling their dogs while on vacation. In response, “Uber”-model businesses like Wag and Rover have exploded to meet the demand. These online companies promise to match dog lovers looking to make a little extra money with dog owners who need someone to watch their pet. With so many strangers competing for your dog (and dollars), who can you trust?

Unfortunately, a mere love of dogs and good intentions are not enough to keep beloved pets safe and tragedies have ensued. Dogs have escaped, been lost, mauled, and killed due to inexperience and neglect.

Questions to Ask

Before deciding on whether a long-established boarding facility, a newly established business, or an online individual will be responsible for your dog’s care in your absence, ask the following questions:

  • What experience do you have? How long have you been boarding dogs?
  • What are the facilities like? Will my dog be confined to a limited space like a crate or room? Does your property have a securely fenced yard?
  • Will my dog be left alone? If so, for how long? If not, who watches them when you are not there? Someone with the appropriate experience? (Children or teenagers in the house increase the risk of a dog’s safety. Too often they forget to securely shut the front door or gate.)
  • How will my dog be exercised? Will my dog leave the property? Are they taken in cars? Are safety harnesses or crates used for transport? If they leave your property for exercise, where do they go? To non-fenced parks, the beach, or size-specific, enclosed dog parks?
  • Do you care for more than one dog at a time? If so, do you limit the number of dogs? Do you accept both large and small dogs at the same time? Are there any other kinds of animals present?
  • Do you pre-screen all dogs before you agree to board them? Do you accept dogs that are not spayed or neutered? Do you require proof of vaccination?
  • Do you have insurance specifically for pet boarding?
  • Are you Red Cross-certified in pet CPR and first aid?

You can’t ask too many questions. Your dog’s life may depend on it.

Safety & WellBeing

Here at Little Pup Lodge, our philosophy and reservation requirements ensure your dog’s safety and wellbeing are our utmost care and concern. Contact us today to learn more about how we care for your dog like you care for your dog.