I did a thing this weekend.

About a month ago, Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue contacted me about a dog they needed help moving from Central PA to the rescue in Chestertown, MD. A long time friend and occasional volunteer for the rescue, I said I would help however I could. Saturday, this girl, my kids called Luna, arrived at my house.


Naturally, a bath, dry and brush was in order… unless I like my house to smell like the inside of a cow, which I don’t! Now here was the hard part – not falling in love. Luna adored attention. She brought back all of the memories of my dear Jack, who passed in November. Before bed, she laid next to me for her evening scratches and rubs before she retired on the big dog bed in my room (I’ve tried to get Lily, my Golden Retriever to settle there, but she prefers her crate). That was Jack’s spot in his later days.

This morning, she got me up and we went outside with Clover and Lily for about an hour and a half of play and rest time in the yard.


She stood back and watched my two dogs wrestle and act llike the crazy lunatics that they are and eventually tried to join in on the fun! It was really nice to see a dog, just pulled from a shelter fit in with my pack AND my kids. That started the question every child asks when they see a dog who needs a home, “Why can’t we keep her?”

I will give you the same answer I told my children; one that I have had to remind myself of several times today when I felt like caving. Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue’s founder Sarah, is amazing at doing what she does – finding homes for dogs. She receives lots of applications from people looking for a dog and has a fantastic ability to match the right dog with the right owner. I have no doubt that she will do the same for Luna. Her right home is out there but it can’t be mine. I’m a single mom. I have 2 kids, 2 dogs, a cat and a new business. I have high standards for the type of care I expect for my pets, including regular grooming, high quality food, and top notch veterinary care. These things all cost money. If we accepted a third dog into our home, would I be able to afford to continue providing the quality of care I expect my dogs to have? Probably not. Would I have the time required to dedicate to training and other activities to keep a border collie satisfied? Probably not. Accepting her into my home would be completely unfair to my current animals, and would it be fair to Luna. She is an AMAZING dog who will make a family currently looking for a dog extremely happy. I reminded my children (and myself) that sometimes the best thing we can do for an animal is to help them on their journey to being part of a family. It is always better to give than to receive. If we didn’t give Luna a bath, food and a place to stay for the night, she might not have made it to MABCR to find her forever home. So with a happy tear in my eye, I said, “see you soon” to my overnight friend as I drove her to a transport towards Chestertown, MD today. I hope the family that she finds is on social media and participates in the owners page for MABCR so I can watch her journey to her forever home.

PS – If you’re looking for a kid, dog and cat friendly dog who you would like to spend hours petting, running and playing with, be sure to head over to Mid-Atlantic Border Collie’s website and Facebook page. You never know who you might meet!



Dogs are Not Born Knowing How to be Groomed

When it comes to puppies, all trainers will tell you that socialization is key to not having your dog be scared of the world. My puppy, Clover and I just finished puppy kindergarten at Manners 'n More in Bellefonte.

It's not my first time taking the class, but it was Clover's. The socialization, sights and sounds of puppy classes are a great start to teaching your dog independence and to be brave. There's homework in the class. A socialization sheet of about 50 different things they ask your puppy to experience. Things like meeting a horse, meeting someone in a wide brimmed hat, walking your puppy near a bus, and getting treats on a grooming table.

Puppies do not come with the knowledge about how to get groomed. It's something that has to be taught and like getting your kids to eat broccoli, it has to be repeated over and over again until they realize the grooming experience, or broccoli in the case of my kids, isn't going to kill them. I recommend starting puppies out at 12 weeks of age, like my newest friend Milo, a 12 week old Havanese, did today.

By then they've started with their vaccines and since they don't have adult hair, and are likely not tangled, their first experience on a grooming table can be quick and easy. Milo had what I recommend for all puppies - Bath & Brush. He had his nails trimmed, ears plucked and cleaned, bath, blow dry, brush and I trimmed his privates footpads, feet and face. That's enough for a first grooming. Like learning to eat broccoli, I recommend repeating the grooming, maybe adding a little more of a trim each time, every 4-6 weeks. That interval is perfect to keep on top of mats and remind your puppy that grooming can be enjoyable and fun!

A Little More About Me

I grew up in a house without a dog. I remember when Ronald Reagan was running for president, my sister and I wrote a list of 50 reasons why we should have a dog. One of those reasons was because President Reagan had one. When my Dad turned 50, my mom let us get him a Collie to celebrate. He wasn’t excited about the idea, but if you ask him to this day about her, he could go on for days telling you stories of her antics and their love for each other. Fast forward a few years, I knew my first dog of my own would be a Collie but I wasn’t planning for it when it happened. I was in grad school at Penn State, and a friend saw a maybe 6 year old Collie at the SPCA, which is now the home for Pets Come First. I lived in an apartment, so getting her meant a new intense walking routine, but I was willing to make the sacrifice to sleep a little less in the morning to help an old girl out. Misty lived to a fabulous old age of 16. I figured I would have her for 4 years, and she gave me 10. Her hair was in horrible shape when she came home and it never seemed to stop raining mud, no matter how many baths she received. It was around Thanksgiving, so the wait to get a grooming appointment was a bit long but totally worth it in the end.

Misty went to the groomer monthly, until I got at job working at the veterinary hospital where she was groomed, as an assistant groomer and learned to pamper her myself. Many dogs later, I slowly learned to groom all sorts of dogs and the opportunity opened for me to be a full-time groomer. I fell in love with helping owners and their dogs manage their dogs hair to suit their lifestyles and needs. I continued to work as a groomer for 6 years, minus the few months I took off to have my two children, until my husband got a job in another state and we decided to move. I was off work for 9 months, getting the house ready to sell. As luck would have it, sometimes the best laid plans go awry, because we ended up getting a divorce. I got a job back at the veterinary hospital but as the assistant again, as my full-time grooming job had been given to someone else. My income dropped significantly. The grooming department, already grooming 20 dogs per day, could not physically fit any more dogs in it to allow for 3 full-time groomers.

A few months ago, a friend asked me how many dogs I would need to groom to make what I was currently making, after 4 years as the assistant/part-time groomer. I did the math and figured I would need to groom 2 1/2 dogs per day. This completely opened my eyes. I knew I could groom at least 5 or 6 dogs on my own each day, depending on the size, of course. If I groomed at home, I would be able to be here when my kids get on and off the bus each day. My time with them is already limited because of the divorce, so this would let me take advantage of as much time with them as I could.

Eleven years after I learned to groom my first dog, I bring to you, Wag Your Tail Grooming – an independently run home-based business where your dogs comfort and care is my top priority.

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