I’m Not My Dog’s Mom

I’m Not My Dog’s Mom

I’m not my dog’s “mom.”

As we wrapped up Father’s Day last weekend, my husband Matt turned to me and said, “No one wished me happy Father’s Day. And I’ve been a parent to a cat and a dog for five years!”

The thing is, my husband and I don’t consider ourselves “Mom” and “Dad” to Baxter and Ralph. Shortly after we adopted Baxter, I remember a conversation where I said to Matt, “Don’t call me Baxter’s Mom.”

We’re good buds. Ralph is our best girl. Bax is our dude. He and Matt are bros. But they’re not father and son (although Ralph and I are occasionally sisters-in-arms to balance out the testosterone).

I hear a lot of “pet parents”—there’s another label—called Mom and Dad. And that makes complete sense. Our pets are absolutely part of our family. We love them and care for them. Mom and Dad just wasn’t how we chose to identify ourselves. For our dog, we’re called Julia and Matt. As in, “Where’s Matt? Go find Julia!”

I'm not my dog's mom

I don’t feel like eschewing the label of Mom and Dad signifies that we love Baxter any less. I often feel uncomfortable calling myself a dog “owner.” Baxter’s my family. I don’t own family members. And I certainly anthropomorphise my dog. Just not to the point that I consider him my offspring.

Interestingly, we have no problem calling our parents Grandma and Grandpa in relation to Baxter. And they identify themselves that way too. My Mom had a whole conversation last week with Baxter about how he was her favourite grand-dog. (He’s her only grand-dog for now, but I chose not to mention that).

What do you call yourself for your dog? Are you your dog’s Mom or Dad?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Baxter and Matt:


Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review and Coupon Code

Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review and Coupon Code

Thanks to Julia for her review of Mighty Paw’s padded sport collar.

The Mighty Paw Sport Collar is a padded collar with a snap buckle and adjustable Velcro. It comes in sizes small, medium, large and extra large and in black or grey.

Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review

This post is sponsored by Mighty Paw. Use code MP20Mutt to get 20% off all products in its Amazon store. Click here.

My thoughts on the Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar:

I am very impressed with this collar. The online description says that it is light weight but heavy duty and that is absolutely true. I feel like the padding likely makes it comfortable for my dog (Baxter’s not saying).

When I first saw that all of the adjustments took place with Velcro, I was skeptical. Would the Velcro really hold, especially if Baxter was pulling? In using the collar, I have complete trust in the Velcro’s ability to stay securely fastened.

Mighty Paw padded sport collar review

Baxter tends to be between medium and large in most collars (his neck is 18 inches around). The large collar fit perfectly right out of the package. I like that the large collar is extra wide. This is mostly personal preference, but I like the look of the thicker collar.

What is the cost of the Sport Collar?

The Mighty Paw Sport Collar is $12.99.

Use code MP20Mutt for 20% off. Click here.

What’s unique about the Mighty Paw Sport Collar?

The Sport Collar is padded with neoprene, which makes it comfortable for your dog. As well, the neoprene resists odor. Baxter took it wading (dude doesn’t swim), and it dries very quickly.

Baxter with his Mighty Paw sport collar

You adjust this collar with Velcro rather than buckles or loops.

The collar has two D-rings, one of which I use for Bax’s tags and the other that I clip the leash to. I like that they’re separate. Every once in awhile, we’ve accidentally clipped the leash to Bax’s tags, which is not at all secure. Because of the way the sport collar is balanced, the leash and his tags carry to the side, which I really like. It gives Bax less chance of tangling his leg in the leash and walking with the leash in his armpit.

Pros of the Padded Sport Collar:

  • The collar is sturdy and I feel like the buckles and material can stand up to a very active dog.
  • I love the padding. I feel like this makes it more comfortable for my dog, no matter what we’re doing. However, the padding does not make the collar bulky or heavy.
  • The collar has reflective stitching so your dog is more visible in the dark.
  • The balance of the collar and the separate rings for tags and leash are something I’ve never encountered in another collar, and I really appreciate them.

Baxter's Mighty Paw collar


  • I wonder if the Velcro might attach itself to some dogs’ fur. I have a very short-haired dog, and the fit of the collar ensures that no Velcro is exposed. This might not be the case for every dog.
  • As much as I’m confident in the construction and materials of this collar, the buckle is plastic. If you have an incredibly strong dog or as the collar ages, the strength of the plastic may be an issue.
  • This is marketed as a Sport Collar, but if you have a truly active dog, the rings for the tags or leash may get caught, depending on what activities you’re doing. A completely flat collar might be better.

Mighty Paw padded sport collar review

I would recommend the Sport Collar for…

I would definitely recommend the Sport Collar for anyone with an active dog. If you’re outside a lot, playing, hiking, running or swimming this collar is a great choice.

The variety of sizes and the Velcro adjustment make it easy to fit the collar to any dog.

Order the collar on Amazon HERE.

Ace and Remy wear the Mighty Paw sport collars too:

Ace wearing his Mighty Paw collar

Remy with his Mighty Paw sport collar

Would you like to try a new Mighty Paw product every month?

Everyone at the $7 reward level or higher on That Mutt’s Patreon page receives a new product from Mighty Paw every month.

Claim one of the remaining 8 spots HERE. In June, you’ll have the option of a treat pouch or a double-dog leash. Sign up here.

Other Mighty Paw reviews:

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Mighty Paw Long Training Leash Review and Promo Code

Mighty Paw Long Training Leash Review and Promo Code

Thanks to That Mutt’s writer Julia for her review of Mighty Paw’s long training leash.

Mighty Paw offers two long training leashes—15 feet and 30 feet. The leashes are useful for when you’re working on skills like recall or (my favourite) off-leash hiking.

The leashes have a traditional swivel clasp to attach to your dog’s collar and a padded handle for you to hang onto. The handle end also has a buckle so you can clip the leash around a tree or post for tie-out.

Mighty Paw Long Training Leash Review

This post is sponsored by Mighty Paw. Use code MP20Mutt to get 20% off all products in its Amazon store. Click here.

My thoughts on the Mighty Paw training leash:

I’ve written before about how Baxter dragged a long leash as part of our training for off-leash hiking, so when I had the opportunity to review these leashes I was quite excited. Before I had the Mighty Paw leash, my long leash was a cheap one I picked up at the dollar store. These Mighty Paw products are definitely far superior.

The clips are sturdy. The fabric is tightly woven and durable. I love the padded handle a lot.

However, I’m usually not holding the handle when we’re hiking. I like for B to just drag the leash behind him. On my cheapie leash, I’ve tied some knots, so that I can step on it and stop Baxter or slow him down if I need to. I could also do that with the Mighty Paw leash, but I’d have to do it farther up the leash to avoid the handle—and I’d feel a bit bad about tying knots in such a nice leash.

See That Mutt’s post: Off-leash hiking with your dog.

The 15-foot leash is close to the length I’m used to, so I was very comfortable with it. Thirty feet feels very long. So far I’ve tried it on trails that are fairly well groomed. I feel like it might get caught or tangled on more rugged hikes.

However, for training recall or stay, the two lengths would be very helpful for gradually increasing your distance.

The buckled handle holds up to Baxter

The addition of a buckle at the handle end makes the leash more versatile in that I can use it for tie-out if I want to. I’m always skeptical about the strength of buckles and clasps on my leashes. However, Baxter inadvertently put these to the test.

We were at my parents’ house, and I had clipped the end of the 30-foot leash around a light post on their front lawn (living on our farm, Baxter has no sense of boundaries and in a neighbourhood with small lots he thinks every property is his). The neighbour’s cat decided to cross my parents’ front lawn and Baxter took off after it. He quickly reached the end of the leash.

The leash held even though Baxter was running pretty much at top speed.

I’ve been using the 30-foot leash on our morning hikes where I keep Baxter on-leash due to the wildlife that’s out early in the morning on our property. The extra long leash gives him plenty of freedom, and the handle gives me security that if he gets distracted by a visitor or an interesting scent he won’t go too far,

Mighty Paw long training leash review

I was very impressed with these leashes and can see them being very helpful in numerous situations.

What is the cost?

Mighty Paw’s 15-foot training leash costs $15.99, and the 30-foot leash is $17.99.

Use code MP20Mutt for 20% off. Click here.

What’s unique about the Mighty Paw training leashes?

Mighty Paw focuses on encouraging activity and adventure, and these leashes definitely do that. They’re great for hiking or other activities with your dog. The padded handle makes these more than just a basic training tool. They’re comfortable and enjoyable to use. The buckle extends the use of the leashes, so they work for tie-out as well as walks or training.

Mighty Paw long leash

Pros of the Mighty Paw long training leash:

  • I’m a big proponent of dogs being off leash. These leashes give your dog that feeling, but in a safe and controlled way.
  • Long leashes are really useful training devices, whether you’re working on recall or off-leash hiking.
  • I had not encountered padded handles until I started using Mighty Paw products. Now I love them so much.
  • The leashes are made of high-quality material. The nylon is water-, UV- and mildew-resistant. I feel like it will last for a long time, even after repeated dragging over hiking trails. The swivel-free clasp prevents tangling. The buckles are sturdy.

Mighty Paw long training leash


  • Thirty feet is a long leash. Leash dragging can be awkward in terms of tripping and tangling. Having more leash means more potential for tangling.
  • If you’re dragging the leash, the buckle will get filled with dirt, grass or leaves.
  • While the buckle end is suitable for tie-out, you will have to have a fairly skinny post. A telephone pole or thicker tree will be too big for the handle to fit around.

I would recommend the training leash for …

A long training leash is a really useful tool. I would definitely recommend this for anyone with a puppy or new dog.

Order the leash on Amazon HERE.

Until you know how your dog will act when he’s completely off-leash, these long lines will give you security and help to create boundaries for your dog. For training recall, long leashes can be a useful step when you’re graduating to an open environment with more distractions. Having both the 15- and the 30-foot leash will allow you to gradually increase your distance.

Mighty Paw long training leash review

See That Mutt’s post: How to teach your dog to come when called.

I also recommend the long leashes if you have a sniffy, distracted dog like Baxter. The leashes give him a lot of freedom and make our field walks very pleasant because he can sniff and walk at his own pace. At the same time, I don’t have to stop every three steps for him to sniff a new smell or worry about him following his nose too far away from me.

Order a Mighty Paw long leash on Amazon HERE.

Would you like to try a new Mighty Paw product every month?

Everyone at the $7 reward level or higher on That Mutt’s Patreon page receives a new product from Mighty Paw every month.

Claim one of the remaining 10 spots HERE. In June, you’ll have the option of a leather treat pouch or a double-dog leash. Sign up here.

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Introducing Your Dog to Outdoor Cats

Introducing Your Dog to Outdoor Cats

Our farm came with a cat. We know nothing about her history or her age. In fact, we know so little about her that we named her Ralph before we actually met her.

Ralph is an amazing cat who’s super calm and confident. She’s a barn cat and spends all her time outside.

We’ve gotten to know each other much better, and she’s now super affectionate—and demanding for kibble, treats and scratches. We’ve also learned that somewhere in her life Ralph may have had a bad experience with a dog.

Our rescue group did a home visit before we adopted Baxter, and the volunteer brought a dog with her. Ralph immediately ran for the barn, even though the dog was a Chihuahua and just about her size.

When Baxter came home, Ralph spent a lot of time hiding in the barn. Baxter is a very social dog, so he was incredibly excited to have a cat sister waiting for him at his new home. He would stand at the barn and cry. He would jam his nose into the cat door and sniff has hard as he could.

Eventually, he became so frustrated that every time he saw Ralph, he would chase her.

How to introduce your dog to outdoor cats

Introducing your dog to outdoor cats

We tried lessons of “cats are boring.” We tried distracting him with treats. We usually kept him tied up on a long line when he was outside. If he did happen to chase Ralph, we made sure there were consequences—he got tied up or put in the house.

This situation would have been very different if Ralph had not been a barn cat. If both animals had been in the house, I think they would have gotten used to each other much more quickly and we would have had to put in a lot more work to get them to live together.

Ralph the barn cat

One day, I decided that I was going to introduce Baxter and Ralph. I would be there to supervise, but Ralph was going to get over her fear and Baxter was going to get over his excitement.

I carried Ralph over to where Baxter was tied up. They both pretty much lost their minds. Ralph eventually sunk her teeth into my hand, squirmed out of my arms and landed on the ground in front of Baxter. She hissed and swiped with her claws—she’s a tough barn cat after all—and Baxter stumbled backwards seemingly unable to comprehend that someone might not like him.

Ralph sprinted for the barn. I apologized to everyone, nursed my sore hand and decided I wasn’t going to force this relationship anymore.

Somewhere along the way, Baxter and Ralph came to an uneasy truce. They can now be outside together and get along for the most part. I’m not sure that anything we did helped to get them to this point. I feel like it just took time.

They will both sit out in the yard (and Baxter is no longer tied up). They will sniff each other. A couple of times Ralph has flopped over for belly scratches while Baxter has sniffed her. Once she must have been incredibly itchy because she rubbed against his nose to scratch her head.

How to introduce your dog to a cat

Ralph is still uneasy sometimes. Baxter is still excited sometimes. He likes to do zoomies, and often his zoomies take him past the barn.

If Ralph doesn’t feel like going inside, she will pancake herself to the ground and pretend she’s invisible. Or she just looks at him like he’s an idiot for expending energy running in circles—typical cat. On those days, B usually veers away before he gets too close to her.

A few weeks ago he tried to do zoomies with her and got between her and the barn. She didn’t understand his play bow and the result was hissing, dodging and a quick dash to the barn. No one was hurt and Baxter’s confused look and Ralph’s indignation made me laugh more than anything.

Now we’re at the stage where I prefer to let Bax and Ralph work things out between themselves. If Ralph doesn’t want to deal with him, she’ll usually sit out of reach under one of the cars or stay close to the barn.

Baxter and Ralph

Watching Baxter, I can usually tell if he’s over-excited and in the mood to chase. A quick verbal correction will attract his attention and remind him to leave his sister alone.

While they will never be best buds, I’m pleased that they usually can coexist without drama.

What are your tips for living in a multi-animal households? Do any of your pets not get along?

Let us know in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Also see our posts:

How to introduce your dog to a cat

Are weimaraners good with cats?


How to Protect Your Dog From Ticks

How to Protect Your Dog From Ticks

This spring has been a terrible season for ticks. At our farm in Southern Ontario, we are now up to 19 ticks that we have pulled off of the dog and ourselves. This is far and away a record year for us.

Ticks are known for spreading several different diseases and causing serious health concerns for humans and dogs. It’s important to be careful and protect yourself and your pet during tick season.

According to the CDC, “tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization.” Symptoms for humans and animals are often very similar: joint pain and fever are the most common. Different kinds of ticks are found in different geographic areas and at different times of the year. Not every tick carries disease and not every kind of tick bites humans.

Do your research and understand whether ticks are a concern in your area. Then take steps to keep yourself and your pet healthy. Here—in a helpful t-i-c-k acronym—I share some of the lessons we’ve learned living in tick country.

Take your medicine

There are a variety of tick medications available. Some of these are repellents to discourage ticks from landing or biting. Some are pesticides that kill ticks. Medications come in sprays, collars, topical and chews. There is also a Lyme disease vaccine available for dogs. Discuss options with your vet, weigh the risks and make the choice that’s best for your dog. For us, we give Baxter one NexGard chew a month.

If your dog does contract a tickborne illness, depending on the sickness, there may not be treatment options available.

Our vet provides a test called the 4dx which tests for:

  • Lyme disease
  • heartworm
  • anaplasmosis and
  • erlichiosis.

When I shared my tick woes on Instagram, some of the solutions people suggested included a spray of rose geranium essential oil mixed with vodka, or lemon eucalyptus with jojoba for a powder. Even catnip was cited as a repellent.

With any treatment options, be careful and educate yourself about what is safe and best for your dog. For example, our vet said to be cautious about using essential oils for tick prevention because they have not been tested for efficacy in the same way that the prescription products have been.

Inspect, inspect, inspect

The best way to deal with ticks is to spot them.

Baxter gets a full nose to tail examination every time he comes inside. I look in his ears, under his tail, between his legs, between his toes, in his armpits. I run my hands over his head, body, belly, groin, legs to feel for bumps. We’ve found ticks crawling on him, and we’ve also found ticks that have bit him.

If your dog has long or dark hair, ticks may be hard to spot. Make sure you take the time to do a thorough inspection. Ticks might be carried inside on your clothes or your dog’s fur—some ticks may hang out for awhile before they bite. You really don’t want them crawling around in your house.

If I find a tick, I pull it off with tweezers and put it in a jar of rubbing alcohol. For ticks that are already attached, grasp firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out. You may be surprised how securely the tick is attached. Don’t twist or bend the tick. You want to extract its mouth and head all in one piece.

Our vet said that sometimes the mouth parts of the ticks often do break off in the skin, as they are barbed and most often anchored into the skin. This is not a big deal, according to our vet, because the dog’s body will break this down and eject it, sort of like a little pimple.

Don’t forget to inspect yourself as well.

Cut the grass

Ticks like long grass, leaves and brush. They hang out, waiting for a warm body to walk by, and then they hop aboard. Keep your yard mowed and avoid walking in fields or overgrown areas during tick season. For us at the farm, most of our walks take place in our fields. We have several mowed paths, which my husband has widened as a result of our experience this spring. We’ve also driven to residential areas for our walks a couple of times.

A second ‘C’ tip for humans: cover up. Wear long pants, long sleeves, tall boots. Tuck your pants into your boots and your shirt into your pants to limit the amount of skin that is exposed. Wear light colours so that ticks are easier to see on your clothing.

Knowledge is power

As with any health concern, it’s important to educate yourself. Know what ticks live in your area and what they look like. Know the symptoms of tickborne illnesses and keep an eye on your pet if he is bitten.

Talk to your vet about what to watch out for, what treatments or preventative options are best and any concerns you have.

Ticks are not a cause for panic. You can still go outside and you can still enjoy nature with your dog. Be vigilant. Take precautions. Be prepared.

Do you have ticks in your area? What are your techniques for dealing with ticks?

Let us know in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

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