Living with Coyotes

Last week I saw a news story about a yorkie that was killed by a coyote in Sanibel Island. I was horrified and saddened by this. I’ve never seen a coyote in the wild, until I moved to Florida, so this story really hit home for me.

When I heard there were coyotes in our neighborhood, i didn’t really believe it until I saw them myself. At first I was spooked and concerned. Knowing they were running up and down our street, I wondered where it would be safe to walk my dogs. Over time, I got more comfortable and eventually learned some things that I could do to help keep myself and my pups out of danger.

Frequently, we would see what appeared to be 2 young coyotes. They didn’t have much fur, which is a classic sign of mange. One day we noticed one of them was injured, favoring a paw. We decided we really needed to try to do something to help these creatures and reached out to a local wildlife center - The Wildlife Center of Venice. One of their volunteers came out and agreed that the pups needed veterinarian care, so a trap was set up.

It wasn’t long before the injured pup was captured. But his condition was so poor, he was euthanized. It would be many months before the female coyote would be caught. She was unafraid, sometimes even walking on the other side of the ditch as I walked my dogs. I heard from neighbors who also said she would approach or follow them as they walked their dogs as well. She appeared to be harmless, probably lonely and desperate for companionship. Eventually she was trapped and is now getting the care she needs. I’m not sure what the plan is when she is ready to be released, but I hope this will help her get healthy. While I got over my fear of her and started to look forward to our encounters with her, I have to admit it was odd seeing her as often as I did, especially during the day.

We learned quickly it was best to take our dogs for a short walk at night. Just long enough for them to do their business. While we hadn’t had any issues with the coyotes, they are prey animals and will do what instinct leads them to do - kill small animals. Of which I have one.

My heart goes out to the woman who lost her dog last week. It’s horrible losing someone you love. There are some things you can do to help prevent a coyote attack. They are:

First, always, no exceptions, keep your dog on a short leash.

Seond, at night, take a flashlight with you.

Third, if you live in or near a wooded area, shake something and make a lot of noise before going outside. You can take a plastic water bottle and fill it with some stones. This is especially a good idea at night when you can’t see the coyotes, yet they might be just a few feet away from your door.

Fourth, do not feed the coyotes!

Fifth, coyotes can come inside a home through a dog door, so it’s best to barricade these up overnight.

And finally, ff you do encounter a coyote, do not run. Instead, shout or throw something at it. 

I hope this helps you protect your fur kids while finding a way to live in harmony with these beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading!

Australian Shepherd dog in southwest Florida

Izzy turns 9!

I know I’v’e said this before, but time sure does fly! It seems like it was only yesterday that I brought this cute little roly poly puppy home! But last week she celebrated her 9th birthday!

golden retriever birthday party

In dog years she's 9
In hooman years she's 56
If she were a Disney character she would be Eeyore
If she were a human she'd be the laziest teenager ever
Her favorite food is pretty much anything
Her favorite thing to do is be by my side
She loves Florida only because she can swim in the ocean
She prefers to ride in the front seat of the car
She hates it when you blow air in her ear
But we love her to the moon and back!

golden retriever birthday hat

I’ve always enjoyed doing something special to commemorate Izzy’s birthday. I know she doesn’t really care, but honestly, it’s just an excuse to get out my camera and photograph her. One day I’ll be grateful that I have these photos marking milestones in her life.

puppy cake 3 tier bone cake

This year, I decided to do something simple. I picked up a box of Puppy cake in peanut butter flavor and some peanut butter ice cream. Once I cooked the cake, I used a bone shaped cookie cutter and cut out enough to make a 3 layer cake. Then I used a smaller bone shape cookie cutter for the top layer. The box comes with mix to make icing - it’s really simple, add enough water to the consistency you want and spread it on top or in between the layers. Izzy enjoyed her cake in about, oh, 4 or 5 bites. The hard part was keeping her from chowing down before I got any photos of her with the cake!

golden retriever eating birthday cake

The morning of Izzy’s birthday, the first thing I thought about was how my other golden retriever, Mika, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 3 days after she turned 9. Seven months later we said goodbye to her as she lost her battle to cancer. While Izzy shows no sign of illness, I know it’s probably just a matter of time. Canncer is so prevalent in the breed causing the average age to be younger than it used to be. Knowing this, I intend to treasure each day I have with her, while keeping all my fingers and paws crossed that we have many more years together. Happy birthday Izzy!

Thanks for reading!


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Summer's here!

Ok, well summer may not be here for another 3 1/2 weeks, but with record breaking temperatures here in southwest Florida, it feels like summer made a grand entrance - and an early one at that! I’m still in the mindset of life in PA - looking forward to the temperatures finally warming up - going for a swim in a lake, hiking a mountain, BBQ dinners and relaxing evenings on the backyard deck. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be riding my bike less, spending more time indoors in the air conditioning and cooling off in the evenings swimming in the pool instead!

With average temps between 90 - 92, figuring in the humidity, the real feel in the sunshine state can be around 100! Yikes! I’m certainly used to this. However, we might only experience temps that high in PA for 2 weeks out of the entire summer. Which got me to thinking about my dogs and the heat. Here are a few things I’ve already discovered:

  • Take longer walks in the mornings and evenings

  • Avoid walking on the hot pavement if possible. Even better if you can walk on the grass

  • Take water with you - it’s so easy to get dehydrated

  • Cool off with a swim in the pool or playing in the water from a hose

  • If I’m hot, my dogs who have a fur coat are even hotter!

Here’s to a fun and safe summer!

Thanks for reading!


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dogs at Phillippi Estate Park

What I learned at the Veterinarian this week

When it comes to my dog’s health, I give them medication only when it’s necessary. So if you read my recent blog about tittering, you know that I prefer to have a titer test done before having them vaccinated. If you missed that blog post, click HERE. I’m also cautious about giving them preventative medication. But I won’t skip it altogether when the side effects of the medicine out weigh any illnesses they might get. So when my dogs were due for their annual heart worm test, I asked my Florida vet about this. And I was surprised to learn what preventative medication I should be giving them year round.

Everyone knows that Florida is a warm climate. While we celebrate four seasons up north, in the south, there are really only two seasons - rainy and dry. Thus mosquitos are abundant year round, not just 7 or 8 months like they are up north. And because of that, heart worm is more prevalent in the south than up north. Heart worm is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is spread when an infected mosquito bites our dogs thus making heart worm more prevalent in the southern United States. Thus, my vet recommended we give heart worm medication to our dogs year round. When we lived in PA, in the winter months I didn’t medicate them for it since mosquitos can’t survive in the cold.

I also learned that while there are ticks in the south, it’s not nearly as prevalelant as it is up north. I have always given my dogs flea/tick medication most of the year since ticks were a constant problem especially recently. After Izzy was diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was a puppy, I have always been a little more aggressive about being proactive in preventing her or my other dogs to contract this disease.

So, in short, I’ll be giving my girls heartgard year round and only treating for flea and tick medication if we’ll be in areas where ticks are found or if I find any fleas on them. I will keep Nexgard in my medicine closet so I’ll always have it on hand.

Thanks for reading!


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golden retriever among ferns

Location scouting - Phillippi Estate Park

While I’ve been to Phillippi Estate Park before, it’s been a couple of years. Two things that struck me about this location when I first discovered it was how awesome the light is and how beautiful the property is. Oh, and dogs are allowed! Ok, so that makes it three things that I love! This weekend I decided to go back and explore it again with a fresh pair of eyes. I loaded the car with all 3 of our dogs and my husband to head off for an adventure. When we arrived, we walked around the side of the main building just in time to hear over the loudspeaker, “I now pronounce you husband and wife!” As we came around the corner, the bride and groom were walking down the aisle in our direction. Afraid my dogs would start barking, I quickly ran to the other side of the sidewalk and hid behind a tree. The happy couple and bridal party seemed genuinely happy to see the dogs. And to my delight, the girls were well behaved and didn’t make a ruckus barking and carrying on at the wedding party as they walked our way.

We headed off to another section of the property to explore. I set up my gear and took dozens of test photos. The longer we stayed, the more I just loved it. Photographers always shoot with the light and I just couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful evening. I tried new things, practiced old techniques and checked off a bucket list photo I had been wanting to shoot for a while. Some photos I took for specific reasons and I’ll share more when the time is right. But for right now, here’s one of my favorite images I captured of Kita. This is definitely going to be one of my go to locations for client sessions.

Thanks for reading!

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terrier mix southwest florida park