How is Ace Doing? Making the Right Choices for Our Dogs

Many people have asked how my dog Ace is doing. Thank you for thinking of him.

Ace is doing OK.

He’s had an ongoing issue with a non-healing wound.

You can read some of the details here, but we are in the process of meeting with a second specialist and deciding whether to move forward with a CT scan and a second surgery.

I’m not looking for any advice but maybe just a little moral support. I also know I’m not the only one without answers to her dog’s medical issues. Many others are in the same situation only with different issues and I want them to know they are not alone.

Black Lab mix Ace

When I’m feeling this extreme stress about what decisions are best for my dog, one thing that helps is to take a step back and give myself the advice I give others when asked.

I’m a dog walker and dog blogger and you can imagine the questions I get when it comes to the health of our pets and end-of-life decisions for them too.

“Am I doing the right thing?” people ask. “What would you do?”

And what I say to them is this:

“There is no right or wrong. You’re doing the best you can.”

So that’s what I’ve been telling myself with Ace.

You do the best you can.

All I can do is go with my best instincts, listen to our vets, discuss with my husband and observe how Ace is doing. And consider financial limitations too.

Sometimes the right decisions are obvious.

Usually, they are not.

We’re comfortable with the decisions we’ve made so far, and I’m hoping to get some more answers soon. I’m hoping and praying (begging God, actually) that a second surgery will give Ace another year or two (or five!).

But I also want to be realistic about how much we want to put our almost 10-year-old dog through and how far we’re willing to go financially. There are no right answers here.

It’s heartbreaking.


What I could really use is your thoughts for Ace as we move forward with more appointments and decisions.

Ace’s issue does not seem to be life threatening at the moment (that we know of) but it is causing him some pain and discomfort. Our walks are slow and short and we spend a lot of time lounging around.

All your comments, emails and positive thoughts have meant a lot to me.

Thank you.

-Lindsay (and of course Ace!)

P.S. We still have fun! See:

Ace and me

Related posts:

Planning for the end of your pet's life – difficult questions

How much should I spend on my pet's vet bills?

My dog has a wound that won't heal

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How to Stop Your Dog From Guarding You at the Dog Park

How to stop your dog from “guarding” you from other dogs at the dog park.

Does your dog do this?

Does he growl or bark or nip (or worse) at other dogs that approach you?

While your dog might think he’s “protecting” you from these “threats,” those other dogs are NOT real threats and he should trust you to handle them.

I'm going to go over some of my general thoughts and ideas for managing this problem. Keep in mind every dog is an individual and it's best to consult with a professional trainer who can observe your actual dog.

These tips are to help you brainstorm.

How to stop a dog from guarding you at the dog park or beach

As always, it helps to look at why the dog might be guarding you.

Is it?

  • Resource guarding (where YOU are the resource)
  • Protective instincts (feels the need to protect you or your other dog)
  • Fear (I’ll get you so you don’t hurt us!)
  • Not really guarding but a lack of social skills
  • Reacting to the “excited” energy of the oncoming dog (does he react the same way to calm dogs?)
  • Trying to control excited, nervous or inappropriate energy of other dogs

I realize sometimes it’s hard to tell why your dog is acting a certain way, so I recommend you get an experienced friend to observe your dog’s behavior (and YOUR behavior!) or hire a professional trainer. Even a single one-on-one session with a trainer can be a big help.

Stop dog guarding you dog park

My 5 tips for getting control of this problem

*Obviously, avoid dog parks if your dog is aggressive. Some dogs just can’t visit dog parks ever and that’s OK. These tips are geared towards dogs that are still able to visit the park but are pushing their limits.

Also see my post: Dog possessiveness aggression

Tip #1 – Desensitization

It can work really well to come up with a desensitization plan for your dog. What I mean by that is you would slowly change your dog’s emotional response to other dogs approaching you so he eventually over time begins to view this as a positive thing or at least neutral.

Of course, a dog park is not a good place to practice this plan because there’s too much going on and too much is out of your control. It's best to work with a professional trainer and come up with a step-by-step plan.

This would likely involve setting up some controlled situations with one or two calm, easygoing dogs and showering your dog with highly valued treats like hot dogs as the dogs approach you. When the dogs leave, the treats end too. You want your dog to think, “I love when that dog approaches! It means I get hot dogs!”

Obviously this type of training takes a lot of time, patience and having a trainer to help as well as having access to some seriously easygoing, mild-mannered dogs.

Tip #2 – When approached by dogs, keep moving!

If you’re at the dog park with your dog and another dog is approaching, don’t just stand there like you’re waiting for your dog to defend you. If you stand there anticipating a reaction, you’ll likely get one!

Just keep things light and moving. When another dog comes bounding up, just keep on walking to the side to avoid head-on confrontations. Ignore the other dog and call your dog along as you keep walking. Your dog will likely follow.  Plus, you’re putting your dog in a following position vs. out in front “protecting” you.

Tip #3 – Defuse the energy of both dogs

When there’s a dog bounding up, it helps to quickly address your dog with “stay” and then face the other dog and give a quick “hey!” This will usually pause the oncoming dog for a split-second, which will defuse the initial energy of both dogs and decrease the chances of an “outburst.”

Then you would calmly keep moving in the same direction but to the side, calling your dog along as described above.

See: What to do when off-leash dog charges you

Tip #4 – Work on some serious obedience with your dog

If your dog is showing mild aggression and he doesn’t follow basic obedience commands, he has no business being in a dog park for now.

On the other hand, if he will stay when told, come when called and look at you when asked, you’re going to have much more success getting his attention and guiding him on appropriate behavior in general.

There is no “quick fix” to most dog behavioral issues but a solid first step is to increase your dog’s level of training overall.

Some goals all dog owners should reach with their dogs at an absolute minimum:

  • The dog will sit and remain sitting for 5 minutes at home until released with “Free!” or “OK!”
  • The dog will remain in a down position for 5 minutes with mild distractions such as outside on a walk until released.
  • The dog makes eye contact with a “watch me!” command on walks.
  • The dog comes when called 99 percent of the time in the back yard or in the house after the first command.

Tip #5 – Sign up for an obedience class

These types of classes are generally affordable and it gives your dog a chance to work in a controlled setting around other dogs.

No, resource guarding is generally not addressed in these classes, but it helps to build a solid foundation for your dog’s training. Advanced classes will work on skills like leaving your dog in a “down/stay” while you walk around the room petting the other dogs.

Dogs with a high level of self-control are going to be much better behaved and manageable in general.

Does your dog tend to guard you at the dog park?

If you still have questions or maybe a similar problem that’s not quite like this one, leave a comment below and I’ll help you brainstorm.

Related posts:

Stop dog's possessiveness of toys at the dog park

How to stop my small dog from guarding me

When one dog growls at the other

Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth Without Anesthesia

Would you consider cleaning your dog’s teeth without anesthesia?

I’ll be honest here, I don’t brush my dog’s teeth and I’m not going to start now.

On top of that, I know I don’t provide him with enough bones or bully sticks to chew on either.

Thankfully, Ace’s teeth don’t look THAT bad considering his age (10), but our vet of course recommends a professional cleaning.

One option you’ve probably heard about for your own dog is cleaning your dog's teeth without anesthesia. This would still be done by a professional.

Jessica of the blog You Did What With Your Wiener? (yup, she’s got wiener dogs!) wrote a very helpful post on this topic. Read it here.

She has a 13-year-old wiener dog named Chester and decided to go with anesthesia-free dental cleanings for him. She said the procedure typically takes around 15 minutes for him. (Her photos are below.)

Cleaning your dog's teeth without anesthesia

Jessica's post goes over how the procedure works, why she made that decision (vs. putting Chester under anesthesia or opting out of a dental cleaning all together) and why her dog was a good candidate for an anesthesia-free teeth cleaning.


I am pretty sure I’ve heard every argument in the book about Professional Outpatient Preventive Dentistry (POPD) – the technical term for anesthesia-free canine dental cleaning. If I haven’t, I am sure I will after people read this article. Despite the very vocal detractors, I feel strongly that I have made the right choice for Chester.

Read the full post here.

I didn’t realize there were so many people STRONGLY opposed to anesthesia-free teeth cleaning for dogs. In her post, Jessica acknowledges and addresses each of these arguments one by one and explains why the procedure is still the best choice for her dog.

Just a few of the common arguments against cleaning your dog's teeth without anesthesia include:

  • “You’re just doing it to cut costs.”
  • “Anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is not as thorough as cleaning under anesthesia.”
  • “People performing this procedure don’t know what they’re doing.”

Jessica has some good answers in response to each of these arguments. Read her post here.

What do you think?

Have you or are you considering having your dog’s teeth cleaned without anesthesia?

Do you have any questions about the procedure or experiences to share?

Let me know in the comments!

Related posts:

I can't afford a dental cleaning for my dog

Alternatives to brushing a dog's teeth

What types of raw bones are safe for dogs?

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Assisi Loop – How Can It Help My Dog Or Cat’s Pain And Healing?

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Note: I’ve partnered with Assisi Animal Health to bring you this post and giveaway.

The Assisi Loop is a non-pharmaceutical, anti-inflammatory device used to speed up the healing process and decrease pain in animals.

We’re giving away a FREE Loop valued at $289 to one lucky reader of That Mutt. Just leave a comment below to enter.

The winner will need to obtain a prescription from his or her pet’s vet (Assisi can help with that).

Here are some basics about what the Loop is and what it can do. Please leave any questions in the comments or email I’ll get them answered for you.

Assisi Loop – What is it and how can it help my dog?

You may remember some of my previous posts about the Assisi Loop, but it’s helpful to review how the product's technology works. (Read my Assisi Loop review here.)

Assisi Loop 2.0

The Loop is non-pharmaceutical, anti-inflammatory device (NPAID) used for managing pain and inflammatory conditions in animals (dogs, cats, horses and other pets – even turtles), according to Assisi Animal Health, the developer of the Loop.

[quote_left]The product uses low-level pulses of energy to reduce pain and swelling …[/quote_left]The product uses low-level pulses of energy to reduce pain and swelling and to speed healing, according to Assisi. These low-level pulses of energy are known as targeted PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field). The technology is based on the same FDA-cleared treatment for people.

It is a light-weight product available in two sizes. You gently rest the Loop on or around the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time.

The Loop is used and prescribed by veterinarians through the United States, and my dog Ace’s vet wrote us a prescription for the Loop to help with Ace’s arthritis and tendinitis. It allowed us to decrease Ace’s pain medication (vetprofen).

Assisi Loop logo

What conditions could the Loop help with?

The Loop can help your dog, cat, horse or other pet with decreasing inflammation and pain.

The Assisi Loop works for cats and dogsIt is effective for several issues. For example:


  • Orthopedic injuries (ACL tears, broken bones, muscles strains)
  • Neurological issues
  • Wound care
  • Post-surgical pain and swelling
  • Other inflammatory issues (pancreatitis, bronchitis)


Some potential benefits of the Loop

According to Assisi Animal Health, some of the benefits could include:


  • Increased bloodflow
  • Accelerated healing from surgery
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Bone healing & enhanced muscle function
  • Blood oxygenation


Start the process of ordering a Loop here

Our personal examples – How the Loop helps my dog

My dog Ace uses the Assisi Loop

Some of you know my dog Ace has had some ongoing medical issues. I’ve used the Loop for him for multiple issues such as:

  • Tendinitis in his shoulder (which has gone away!)
  • Arthritis in his knees and hips
  • Healing an infected nail bed last spring (pictured above)
  • Recovery from surgery in December

For us, the Loop hasn’t worked any obvious “miracles.” Nothing can do that.

Instead, I use it as one piece of my dog’s “circle of care” which sometimes includes pain medication, antibiotics and other treatment plans.

The Loop really helps by allowing me an additional way to treat Ace right from home while he’s resting on his bed.

Do any of you have questions about how the Loop works?

My dog Ace with the Assisi LoopIt takes time to process and understand what the Loop can and can’t do.

When first introduced to the product I had some doubts and questions about it. I’m assuming some of you might have some questions, and if so, please leave them in the comments or email me ( I’ll answer them in an upcoming post next week.

You can also visit the FAQ page or contact Assisi Animal Health directly. Its customer service team is extremely helpful. I’ve talked with them a couple of times and they really helped me understand how the Loop could potentially help my dog.

Check back next week to learn more about how the Loop works. I will also answer all your questions.

Giveaway – Win a FREE Assisi Loop valued at $289

Congrats to Sandy W.!

*A prescription is required to obtain this product. Assisi can help you with this process.

Assisi Animal Health is giving away a FREE Loop to one lucky reader of That Mutt.

To enter:

Just leave a comment below to let me know which one of your pets could benefit from this product.

Leave a comment on my upcoming post (Wed Feb. 17) for a second entry!

I’ll choose a winner at random on Wed Feb. 24. Must have a U.S. mailing address to win. The winner will need a vet's prescription and will have 30 days to claim the prize.

Winter uses the Assisi Loop, Photo by SAGE Centers

Could one of your pets benefit from the Loop?

Let me know in the comments!

*Last photo courtesy of SAGE Centers.

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