I’m a cruel, cruel dog owner.

I made Panda cross that log not once, nor twice, but 4 times! And on the last crossing, I filmed it.

In my defense, on his first attempt, Panda jumped and cleared the log like an equestrian champ! Sadly he lost the confidence to do so again, and the second time he decided to go under. A lot of whining and one big grunt after, Panda squeezed and wiggled himself from under the log!

I thought, “Wow, I made my childhood dreams come true, and brought Winnie-the-Pooh to life in form of my silly ol’Panda Bear!”

I Wuv You! Doggie Valentine 2013

My dream suitor has finally arrived! With a tie and flowers too, so classy!

I admit, there’s no good way a woman can express her love for a dog without appearing like a relationship-basher.

Just take a look at PETA’s 10 Reasons Why My Dog is My Valentine (“3. My dog never leaves the toilet seat up”) or Petfinder’s Ten Reasons Your Dog Makes the Best Valentine Date (“1. Dogs don’t talk / 10. Did I mention dog’s don’t talk?”)

These lists are all in good fun, but I think we can draw more meaningful lessons from our relationship with dogs without having to contrast it against all this emotional baggage!

In my 8 years growing up with this furry bear of a dog, here are the Top 3 lessons Panda has taught me about love:

3. Panda proved that a rewarding relationship takes time and patience.

“Off-leash woo hoo! I’m going to run away and be one with nature again. By the way, when’s dinner time?”

After 8 years of wrecking havoc, Panda surprised me by being so well-behaved on our recent off-leash dog hikes. He stuck right by me, and always checked to make sure I was within sight. It didn’t matter than he ignored me at home, I had the satisfaction of finally knowing that I was his person as much as he is my dog.

2. Panda provides me with insight on my human relationships. 

Conversations with a dog

“. . . and and sometimes she gets mad at me for no reason! So what if I like to munch on socks? I just don’t get women!”

I could never forget the time my (now ex) bf stayed at my place to take care of Panda when my family went away for a wedding. I returned jet-lagged and I wanted nothing but to crawl into bed with my bf who I haven’t seen for weeks. Instead, he tucked me in and took Panda out for their ‘routine’ nightly walk. Turns out during my time away, he came home from work early to be with Panda and took him for walks twice a day. From the way Panda followed him around and positively adored him, it was obvious that my bf took really good care of my dog. Ultimately, it didn’t work out between us for very human reasons, but I have Panda to thank for showing me I knew how to pick the good ones. :)

1. Panda taught me to love selflessly. 

"Oh gawd, no more pictures, she knows floor shots make me look flat!"

“Oh gawd, no more pictures, doesn’t she know floor shots make me look flat!”

In the end, dogs are dogs and no amount of personification will make them a partner in life whom we can rely on to open tough jars, or fix the toilet, or pay bills. I love Panda and I can’t expect him to do anything for me, including loving me back. All I hope for is that, if we ever hypothetically get lost in a crowd of doglovers holding milkbones, Panda would think to look for me!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Hiking in the Snow with the Muttley Crew

"Do you promise that there will be pork chops, and milkbones, and bananas, and and . . . carrots on the other side of the bridge?"

“Do you promise that there will be pork chops, and milkbones, and bananas, and and . . . carrots on the other side of the bridge?”

Panda and I joined the Muttley Crew again for a winter hike. It was a beautiful morning, right after a snowfall. We had an abnormally quiet walk, which instead of being off-putting, was extremely relaxing and peaceful. Through our 1.5 hour walk, we listened and meditated on the sounds of soft snow crunch and the gentle panting of our canine friends.

Dogs Driving a Car

Dogs in a car is a common enough sight – in fact, I no longer invite humans in my car because Panda has permanently claimed the suede-lined back seat for his own. . .

But a dog DRIVING a car. . . that’s certainly not something we see everyday!

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Auckland is training dogs to drive in their campaign to raise awareness for stray dogs. SPCA wants to prove that stray dogs are as equally smart and trainable as $1500+ pure-breeds. . .Getting a stray dog to sit and fetch a ball would have convinced me. . . but seeing these dogs drive sure is COOL!

To watch more awesome videos of dog driving and find more ways to support SPCA, please visit their DrivingDogs Facebook page.

Modern Family: Stella the Dog

It’s those adorable perky ears that make Stella a STAR!

Stella the French Bulldog of Modern Family is undoubtedly the cutest dog appearing on a TV show at the moment.

In an 11 person ensemble with an incredible cast, little Stella still manages to be a scene-stealer!

The One That Got Away – Season 2 | Episode 224

Who can forget the time she ruins Jay’s birthday cake at the crucial moment? Or the time she gloats Gloria into chewing a shoe? One of Modern Family’s best moments is when the sexy, gorgeous looking Gloria gets jealous over her husband’s affection for the little French Bulldog:

“Where I come from, men cherish women. It goes wife, mistress, dog. Dog always at the bottom.”

Phil on Wire – Season 3 | Episode 303

But sadly, the dog actress Brigette – who has been playing Stella – has been replaced in Season 4. When Brigette decided to join the cast in their round of salary renegotiation battles, the producers decided that out of everyone, the pooch was the most replaceable.

In Season 4, Stella is played by another dog actress Beatrice. So far, Beatrice proves to still be cute and lovable as a backdrop family member, but hasn’t been given any significant material to work with yet. Let’s hope the producers at Modern Family continue to develop Stella’s character as the ‘underdog’ troublemaker!