Monday, December 14, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Love Lost, Lost Love or Just Lost...

It has been a year of loss for me and it is still two more weeks before I will be happy to say goodbye to the year that was perhaps my most challenging. Certainly, it was the year of multiple and very painful soul scorching losses for me. 

If it was just one loss, maybe it would be easier but as the losses mounted it just became too too much.  Stop I say but they kept coming.

One of the many losses I am enduring this year and will probably continue to endure is the loss of my most beloved dog Madeline.  

Some of my losses I saw coming (if you will) this one I did not.  There was little time to prepare as always the case with the tragedy of a sudden and unexpected loss, lots of time after to reflect, however, not helpful.  

Of course, in dealing with loss my best defense has always been of stoicism.  Just bury the grief and carry on.  Well not this time, the cumulative grief in my life came down around me this summer and brought me to my knees.  Forget about trying to avoid grief as I have been forced into it.  I am currently in a state of grief complete with a shattered heart.

As part of my grief work, I have among many things chose a few books to guide me.  In particular I relied upon the classic, On Grief and Grieving by the late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.

While I won't get into the heart of the book, I will say that one of the suggestions in the book was to pen a letter to a lost loved one.  

So, being the weird dog crazy person I am - I wrote a letter to Madeline who passed this May. It is an emotional based letter based on the exercise suggested in On Grief and Grieving.

Madeline and Lee - Butchart Gardens 

Dear Madeline:

I know that you are a dog and that you cannot read but know that I need to try to get this out of my mind and into my heart.

I am lost without you.  Perhaps, I should just admit that I am lost.  I have lost my love and I am just plain old lost.  

You were the most loved dog ever - I love you and miss you every minute of every day and still I cannot believe you are gone forever.  

Our home is without joy and fun and all the cuteness and laughter since you have been gone.  I keep seeing you running around the corner coming to me doing your famous wiggle dance and feeling your happiness every single day.  I am so heartbroken that you are gone and I feel so sad and so guilty and responsible for your fall.  And, what followed.

Please forgive me lovey - I miss you and will continue to miss you everyday.  Christmas is almost here and I won't be buying you a gift and stuffing your stocking - and I am so sorry for that and that you won't be here with us.

I have Miss Kermit by my night stand and say good night to her for you each night when I go to bed.  I hope that you can hear me everyday when I say "love you baby girl"  "miss you maamaa".  It is just so painful that I simply do not know what to do.

I have been looking at Doberman websites and Doberman Rescue Sites looking for a black and rust girl that looks like you - I have finally stopped that as it hurt too much. Besides, no one is a beautiful as you!

I know that you are one in a million and that I will never replace you and that you are never coming back - I am so sorry I could not help you or save your life.

Love you always and miss you forever


Signature Pet Services is a by-appointment-only pet sitting company serving the very beautiful Saanich Peninsula in British Columbia. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Interesting Fact about Doberman Pinschers - Dedicated In Loving Memory of the Ones We've Lost

One of the more interesting aspects of Doberman Pinscher history, was the use of this great breed during war times. Dobermans are known for their protective guarding abilities but because of their intelligence and easy trainability they were also found useful for service in the military.

Dobermans were used in both WWI and WWII assisting soldiers. These war dogs were trained to find and rescue wounded soldiers, detect enemy locations and mines, act as messengers, sentries and guard dogs. On another note, there is mention that Dobermans were also used in the war as “suicide dogs”. These dog victims of war were packed with explosives that were remotely detonated once the dog was near an enemy tank. This definitely shows the cruelty, wastefulness and sadness of war.

In WWII the U.S. Marine Corps had their own K-9 Corps known as the “Devil’s Dogs”. (Not the most flattering name for a heroic group of dogs). These dogs received specialized training as messenger dogs to deliver messages, ammunition or medical supplies and sentry dog training to alert handlers of any enemy strangers approaching. These dogs prevented many ambushes as they stood watch protecting their sleeping, tired soldier handlers. Of these Marine War Dogs, 25 died in 1944 at the Battle of Guam.

In honour of these dogs a memorial was created on the island of Guam in the South Pacific. Fourteen dogs were killed in action and others died from exhaustion, tropical illness, heat stroke, accidents, and anemia from hookworm. All were buried in Guam in what is now the first war dog memorial (created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the dogs on Guam). 

This post is one of my most viewed and is also one that is closest to my heart.  You may notice that this blog about the Doberman Pinscher was originally published back in January of 2011, however, I wanted to re-publish in honour of Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans' Day in the United States - both of which fall on November 11.

Dedicated to my dad, who I miss every single day.

With love and in remembrance, always  💔  

Lee and Roman

And, sadly I want now to also include in my dedication my beloved Doberman Pinscher Madeline and my mom.  And, my many clients and their pets, neighbours and friends who I lost in 2015.  Miss you all so very very much and nothing will ever be the same without you. 

Signature Pet Services is a by-appointment-only pet sitting company serving South Surrey and White Rock, British Columbia. We specialize in loving and safe home-style dog boarding in our own home. Signature Pet Services also provides dog, puppy and cat sitting services. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Lee Wyllie Shares a Love Story

Lee Wyllie and Madeline

Madeline by my Side  (RIP Madeline May 4, 2015)

Madeline (a beautiful black and rust purebred Doberman Pinscher) is a near-perfect dog and if there is a god I thank him everyday for her. Madeline came to my husband and I on a very hot humid August long weekend in 2005. We drove to Oregon in the US to pick her up – she was just a tiny puppy. In fact, Madeline was the tiniest puppy of her litter. We don’t like to call her the runt – but she was in fact the runt. But she was a friendly, bright and outgoing puppy who seemed to have the very best temperament of all the puppies in her litter – which is very important in a Doberman Pinscher. She was assessed by a group of experienced Doberman breeders from both the US and Canada and she was the pick of the litter. Lucky for us she was small and that is why we were able to purchase her as she was not going to be a top show dog in the US.

Madeline and I have been through a lot together. At first, our personalities really clashed (just ask my husband) but slowly she began to trust me and I her. Today, the love I feel for her is very strong and yes some days when she is on the naughty list not so much and vice versa for her I am sure.

She has been with me through thick and thin. 

She was there the morning I was struck down in a cross walk on my way to catch my bus to work in the city. In fact, she was nearly struck too. You see my husband had her leashed and in front of me in the crosswalk and when some woman struck me and tossed me up onto her hood and kept driving … she just missed Madeline. That day I thought I was going to die – I even saw bright lights – some say I had a near-death experience. Once I was tossed off the moving vehicle and dragged myself to the curb it was Madeline who came to me and I hugged and clung to while I sat in shock awaiting my husband to call the emergency crews. It took along time for my memories to gel from that day but I do remember the firefighters at the scene asking me “was she friendly?” as I was literally hanging onto her for dear life.

Madeline was also there for me in my previous career highs and my lows. She was there for the disappointments with friends and decisions I made. She was there for my all triumphs…all my losses. Always listening – never giving advice. In fact, Madeline is the inspiration for my Signature Pet Services' logo as that is her actual silhouette in my logo. What a dog!

I can and do take Madeline with me everywhere. She is good in big cities, five-star hotels, elevators, airports, cars, the bus (yes, once my old bus driver picked her and I up and drove us home) and with people and all animals (including wildlife). One day while we were out, Madeline alerted me to a dying Canada Goose who must have been nesting (as all her eggs were crushed) when a loader stacked several pallets of stone against her, pinning her and her nest of eggs against a chain-link fence. She had been there so long she was so faded that she was the colour of the stone (tan and grey) and she'd been obviously attacked by several predators too! Poor girl and she could do nothing but sit there. We quickly got help for the goose and the owners of the construction yard moved the stones and pallets away so she could be helped and taken to a bird rehabilitation centre. 

That goose has Madeline to thank for saving her life!

Madeline is fun, super smart, friendly, athletic, aloof, calm, quiet, brave, powerful, sensitive, obedient and a diva all rolled up into one stunningly beautiful dog. I like to say that if she was a human, she'd be a black-belt karate expert (ha-ha)!

I treat Madeline like a dog – because she is one and that is why she is so happy, content and so special. I do not give her baby names or talk to her in a baby-voice. She is not allowed on the furniture, to eat from/at the table or anything else human-like. She is walked almost everyday, goes to obedience class, has the occasional job of a TV production, goes to the dog park and loves to play at the beach.

If you see Madeline and I, she is the one by my side!

This is an encore post, thank you for indulging me with this previously published post. 

Monday, July 13, 2015


Just in time for an EARLY garden harvest time...

Does your dog or pup need a little extra fibre and moisture in her diet - without the calories? 

Do you need a wholesome and inexpensive treat for your dog after her walk? 

Experiencing itchy skin caused from corn or wheat treats? If so, the Zucchini Pups may be the perfect treat for you and your dog or pup. 

Super easy, pick up a zucchini at your local market or if you are lucky, from your own garden. Try to go small and just get one the first time, in the event your dog or pup does not love the zucchini. Sometimes, the texture is simply weird for them and they need some time to get used to it. 

Always purchase organic whenever possible, wash well, you can leave the outer peel on or remove it. I like to make my treats with the skin on for a little extra fibre (it is also faster). 

Cut the zucchini into little medallions and store in the fridge. 

Great for treats, a fabulous natural pill pocket (without the nasty chemicals), or serve one or two on top of their breakfast or dinner (Which is what I do for Roman). 

It is important to note, if you have a kitty and/or a horse - it is of course safe for them to share in the zucchini.  The ASPCA states on their website that zucchini are non-toxic to dogs, cats and horses - so make a batch of zucchini pups and share with everyone!  

This is our final post - we have enjoyed having you follow us from all over the world!  We feel very honoured.

And, a very special shout out to the bulk of our loyal followers who hail from the USA, South Korea, Russia and Germany.  

Lots of luv and have a wonderful summertime! 

Lee, Roman and Madeline RIP (our little Dobie Angel)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Easy Travel Tips for your Dog

Dog aboard Virgin Australia (courtesy Huff Post)

Do your homework and reserve well ahead of time to ensure hassle-free accommodations and transportation.  This could include ferry, hotel, airlines, customs and border crossings and even on-site doggie programs at your destination.  

Pack a familiar blanket, bed and toy so your dog feels at home wherever he is.

Bring food and treats from home to avoid any changes in diet that would upset your dog’s tummy. Always a good Idea to have extra water on hand and a container of pumpkin (if that helps settle your dog's tummy).

If you are travelling out of Canada, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to check that country’s laws regarding dog food.  For example, you cannot bring most dog foods across the US border and sometimes it can be difficult to locate your specific type of food.  Currently, there is no problem bringing salmon dog food across. Do your homework!

Vaccines – usually it is just rabies – but be sure to do your homework on this.  If you have to get a rabies vaccine for your dog it usually has to be done much in advance of crossing the border to return home to Canada so do not leave to the last minute.  

These days almost all motels, resorts and hotels are dog friendly but usually do not allow unattended dogs – and offer pet sitters (by arrangement) to assist you.  If you have quiet dogs – you can simply put them in their crates that way they stay safe and comfortable.  Four Seasons Hotels do not charge a pet fee and Fairmont Hotels charge $25 per dog. Neither of these hotels currently have size or weight restrictions. Always a good idea to ask for a pet policy in writing, so you know where you stand.

Make sure your dog has his collar with tags on at all times and it is a good idea to microchip before your trip.  Take a picture of your dog and have handy this photo, with microchip information, just in case.

Daring young dog in his flying machine  (courtesy Cap'n Aux's Blog)

If you plan to book your pet travel with Air Canada - please ensure you google them or read the latest about Air Canada and its treatment of pets. I've provided the link below.  

Air Canada Pet Article

Happy travels!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Take your Dog to Maui

Just one of Brenda Kennerly's cool  Maui Pet Portraits

For all those folks out there that are heading to Maui (a quick shout out to my clients...have fun!) here is a fun and unique idea to help you bring home a one-of-a-kind Maui souvenir.

What makes this so special?  

Well, let me explain.  There is an amazing artist on Maui who will meet with you, talk about your pet (living or in memoriam) and produce a watercolour of your pet.  The artist's name is Brenda Kennerly and she takes about a week to two weeks to produce the work.  She has a wait list - so be sure to plan ahead if this is something your are interested in and it is in your budget.

If you are interested in this sort of fun and very unique experience, I recommend you head to her website and do your research and find out how everything works at Brenda's gallery.  

Here is her website:  Brenda's website

Aloha from all of us at Signature Dog Blog!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Remembering Madeline - RIP May 4, 2015

She is my friend, my partner, my defender, my dog.

I am her life, her love and her leader.

She will be mine, faithful and true to the last beat of her heart.

I owe it to her to be worthy of such devotion... 

                                                   "author unknown"

Rest in peace Babygirl, we miss you and our hearts are broken into a hundred tiny pieces.

Love and hugs from Mommy, Poppy and Roman

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Signature Dog Blog: Buddy Biscuit Review

I usually bake my own goodies for my dogs and for clients but in the real world - there is more often than not enough time to bake for your dog.  

I recently found these cute dog cookies on a trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island.  The company who makes the cookies is cloud star and the brand is Buddy Biscuits.  While they are not made in Canada, they are however, made in the USA.  I find these days it is increasingly difficult to purchase something decent for your dog that is made in Canada or North America for that matter.  I like to hope that we have better standards than other countries and for that reason - I do not purchase dog items unless they are made in Canada or the USA.   

So, if you are looking for some cute dog cookies that are not too expensive - a box is about $7.00 plus tax - then I would check out cloud star's Buddy Biscuits.  The ingredients are simple, some whole wheat flour, peanut butter, oil and (I believe) Vitamin E. The fibre and protein content are pretty good too.  

These cookies would make a great gift, i.e.:  you could re-package with cellophane/parchment paper and ribbon for a inexpensive holiday or birthday gift or even give the box. 

Remember a treat is a treat, so feed accordingly.  One or two a day at most.  But best kept for after training, after ear cleaning, toe trimming etc.  Treats are not to be part of your dog's meal - think of them as a dessert.

Have a great day!

Lee, Roman and Madeline

Signature Pet Services is a by-appointment-only pet sitting company serving South Surrey and White Rock, British Columbia, specializing in loving and safe home-style dog boarding in our own home. Signature Pet Services also provides dog, puppy and cat sitting services. I invite you to check out our website (link above) or if you live locally give us a call at 604-818-7841.