Meet Sam!

Sam and his brother, Buster, were at a pet adoption day at the Livermore Farmer’s Market when I stopped by on a bike ride Sam Kenyon 2from Berkeley. I had just lost my cat, Argyle, and wasn’t yet thinking of a replacement, but there they were, just asking to be taken home. Since I couldn’t carry them home on my bike, I asked the adoption people if I could come back by car later that day. The foster family had named them Clinton and Gore (!), but I had other names in mind. That night, while I slept, Buster came to me and told me not to be ridiculous, their names were Buster and Sam, and he was Buster.

For much of their lives together there was a mostly friendly rivalry, with Sam usually coming out on top because he was bigger. Sam was a voracious, fast eater, and Buster a much more deliberative eater. So while Buster was alive, Sam ate in the basement with a cat door between them. Buster learned to use the cat door right away, but it took Sam forever. Every morning and evening, when he was hungry, Sam Kenyon 1I’d sit on one side of the door with him and toss kibbles through. Sam would look very interested, but couldn’t figure out what to do about it. If I held the door slightly ajar, he’d push through and get his reward, but just didn’t connect with how to start the push himself. Finally one day, I could literally see the lightbulb go off over his head and he went through by himself. Then he came back. Then he went through again. After I wandered off, I could hear him for some time going back and forth in triumph for figuring it out.
I think they had been abused as kittens. When they came to live withSam Kenyon 3 me, they were about 11 months old, and Sam was already missing a front fang. I was told he’d learn not to catch his lip on his tooth, but he’s maintained his crooked smile for almost 19 years. Both cats were also terrified of men, but got used to my husband when he moved in, and now David’s lap is his favorite place. Buster died two years ago, and since then Sam has been Mr. Clingy, wanting to be in a lap 24/7, if he can get it.

Meet Mabel and Morty!
Morty Mabel 1

Morty Mabel 5We had wanted a dog for years, but since it couldn’t happen in our former living situation we had to be satisfied with many a doggy YouTube video instead. We finally moved into a place with a yard, but there was so much work to do on the new house we thought we should still wait. “We’ll just look,” we said. And that’s when we found Mortimer at the East Bay SPCA. He was the only dog sitting quietly, looking up with those big brown eyes, waiting his turn for some love.

Morty Mabel 6When we adopted him his coat was dark brown, and when you petted him your hand would come away black because he was so dirty. We were quite surprised after his first bath to discover that he has such a beautiful coat. We were even more surprised after getting to know him that first month—he is so loving and silly and surprisingly gentle for his size. He loves to run as fast as he can (so fast!) but usually poops out after 10–15 minutes and plops down in the shade. He loves sitting up on his hind legs and giving hugs, he loves laying down and cuddling, he loves to be loved. We have loved him ever since that first day and he has returned it tenfold. He has honestly changed our lives and we are so grateful.

And that’s how we thought we’d live, a one pup household…happily ever after. Then along came Mabel.

Morty Mabel 3Our friend had adopted her from a shelter, but the little lady just wasn’t getting along with her other dog. They were having some knock-down, drag-out fights and our friend needed a break. We thought it would be for the weekend, a week tops! But as you can see the pair fell in love—within the first hour! Mabel is a sweet little girl who is always excited to meet new dogs and humans. She loves chasing Morty when he’s running fast. She can’t keep up but she always tries. She loves playing with Morty, sometimes hanging by her mouth from his thick neck skin. She loves licking Morty’s eye boogers and checking his jowls for any treats he may have missed (Morty actually had an acne problem before that has cleared up thanks to Mabel’s frequent licking). She loves crawling under things and squeezing into tight spaces, climbing chair backs, and hopping on tables. She is fearless.

Morty Mabel 2They couldn’t be more different: obviously the size (Morty weighs 67lbs, Mabel weighs 7); Morty likes to relax, Mabel likes to explore; Morty likes the shade, Mabel likes sunshine; Morty likes peanut butter, Mabel doesn’t; Morty hides under the kitchen table if he hears a loud noise, Mabel charges straight towards the source. There are also many things they love to do together: sleeping (90% of their day), playing, learning new tricks (both like to jump through a hoop), walking, and of course snuggling with their humans.

Meet Phil!

Phil Selfie

I’ve had Phil and Linda for 9 years now. I’m not sure how old he is but I would imagine 11 or 12. They are both from the Furry Friends shelter in Chicago (now closed). Phil‘s personality is almost as big as his body (over 17 pounds!) and he tends to charm everyone he meets with massive size and expressive face. Phil is strictly an indoor cat. He loves being held, getting back scratches, and watching the garbage getting picked up by the city every Tuesday. He’s been known to play fetch, steal your glass of water and jump to the highest point in the house but mostly he just likes to snuggle with Linda or me and my girlfriend.

Phil 2

Phil 3

Start Young. As with most forms of “good behavior,” good traits are easiest to learn while your pet is young, so get her used to accompanying you in the garden at an early age. Work on setting boundaries and providing limits as to where the dog is allowed to be and where she is not. Want her to keep clear of your prized petunias? Teach her that with firm commands and rewards to reinforce obedience. And don’t assume puppies can’t learn. Even puppies as young as six weeks old can master basic commands.

Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone. Spend time with your pet in the garden to prevent them from associating the experience of being in your backyard with the experience of being unsupervised. Exercise together. Throw a ball around. Make them feel like “the outside” is an extension of their home as opposed to an unknown and untrusting place.   Supervise your pup’s playtime until she can be trusted to enjoy the outside without being destructive.


Use a Fence. When all else fails, protect your beds and borders with a low fence. You’ll be surprised at how even the most meager fence can be a visual barrier for your dog.Check your fence regularly to be sure your pet hasn’t dug an escape route.

Play with Your Dog. Dogs need physical and mental stimulation each day. So carve out time to give your dog a long walk or playtime each day. Active breeds can get restless and destructive if they are bored.Exercise your dog every day to keep her fit and content. Keep a stash of dog toys in your garden. These can be special toys your dog only gets to play with while she’s with you in the garden.

Grow Barrier Plants. Even the most rambunctious dog will avoid garden beds planted with tall, fragrant, or thorny plants. Barberries, roses, euphorbia, Joe Pye weed, and bamboo are just a few rugged yet beautiful plants dogs prefer to walk around rather than through.

Know Your Breed. Dogs have strong natural instincts you should be aware of before you turn them loose in your backyard. Terriers love to dig and if left unattended, can eventually turn your garden upside down. Be sure to give them lots of exercise and toys to chew on to keep excavation to a minimum.

Click here for a full list of toxic plants. Happy Gardening!

Meet Gruff!

A note from Gruff’s family:
My husband Dan and I meet Gruff in a Minneapolis animal shelter.  We had been looking for a small dog, but when we saw Gruff looking sweet in his red bandanna, we knew we would take him home. Gruff has become a huge part of our lives and life is never boring with Gruff. There was the time he got side-swiped by a car on the freeway on-ramp.  Or the time he fell through the frozen Mississippi river and had to be rescued by his mom.  And the time he chased the mailman onto the back of his van.  Oh, yeah and the time he got an entire Thanksgiving turkey carcass down off the kitchen counter.  Through all his mishap, we still love him and know that Campus Vet will always be there to help save the day.
gruff and dad
Like: Meat of all kinds, belly rubs, chasing squirrels up trees
Dislikes: Neighborhood Nemesis dog (name omitted to protect the dog), mail people, and not getting meat.
gruff on the beach
gruff running

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