Ruff Land Review

A lot of dog guardians create a “safe space” for their dog by crate training them. When I adopted our samoyed Freja, she was immediately obsessed with crates/kennels. If she sees an open kennel door, she’ll go right inside to take a nap.

We take frequent trips to our vet (that’s an hour away), so I needed a strong kennel for travel that is more durable than a traditional collapsible one. I did a lot of research to decide which design would fit our needs.

What I was looking for:

A kennel that could be used in a car or inside
A lightweight but sturdy design
Easy to clean
Color options

Freja was visiting our vet every week for hip, skin, and eye issues, so she needed to be protected while we were on the road.

Freja enjoys having a safe space to relax in.

When the dogs are at home, the only one who needs to be kenneled while we are gone is Bibbin’. She has a lot of anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out), so she can get into a lot of trouble if she’s having a meltdown while she’s unsupervised.

Ruff Land‘s design doesn’t seem like a cage, it’s relatively easy to move around, and the dogs prefer it over a traditional metal crate.

Ruff Land is releasing more colors!

Designing A Bunny Space

I have had several foster rabbits over the years, but I was never in the position to foster fail any of them…until now.

I always used inexpensive, temporary setups like a large dog XXL x-pen lined with $3 fleece blankets.

My foster failure Quinoa became extremely clean and tidy shortly after she was spayed. She isn’t destructive and doesn’t have a habit of chewing inappropriately because she has plenty of bunny-safe things to chew on.

Quinoa enjoys having velvet blankets, bunny rugs, and cat beds in her space. I am planning a major upgrade so we can finally bond her with a bunny friend!

She currently has a setup that includes a transparent playpen, a castle by Bunny Beds & Beyond, an XL litter box with my favorite litter & plenty of timothy hay, bunny-safe things to chew, and a variety of interactive toys.

My current foster Chia is very particular about what litter she will use. She was only 9 months and was not spayed when I took her in, so training her has been a difficult process.

A lot of bunny experts recommend using untreated wood pellets as litter, but Chia did not like them. I finally found this wheat litter, and it’s fantastic.

Click images to shop

The Design

I fell in love with The Legend of the Jackalope wallpaper by Walls Need Love, so it’s going to be the main focus.

Quinoa already has this bunny rug that I got on clearance last year.

Until I can build a bunny-safe area with glass, Quinoa’s space will be enclosed in a durable (and expandable) x-pen that I used to use as a mobile fencing area for my dogs.

Things That I Don’t Need (But They’re Cute)

Check back or follow this design journey on Instagam for updates!

Bibbin’s Review: Pomppa Jackets

This is not a sponsored review. Josie aka Bibbin’ had to wait patiently for her human to purchase the coat that fit her needs.

Bibbin’ is a Southern California native who ended up in a cold climate after her life was saved from a high-kill animal control facility. She is used to the desert heat and is not a fan of anything under 75 degrees.
She needs outerwear that is easy to put on and take off, doesn’t irritate her sensitive back (she gets the heebie-jeebies from certain materials), and fits our color-coordinated organization.

The Human’s Thoughts:

I did quite a bit of research before I chose the ToppaPomppa jacket for her. I was searching for plain, pretty, warm, and durable outerwear. This jacket comes in 8 different colors/patterns too!

The ToppaPomppa is warm enough for our cold climate and has important features like a waterproof outer layer, a soft teddy lining & a well-insulating filling. I could tell that it’s durable as soon as I unwrapped it from its package.

Dog-Friendly Features:

It’s easy to do zoomies and run through the woods because of the front slits and durable material that doesn’t easily snag on branches. The snug belt holds the coat in place, and the tail slit doesn’t restrict her from wagging her tail when she’s doing her daily ritual in *her* yard.
She only has to stand still for a few seconds when we have to put it on and take it off. This jacket doesn’t have any extra parts that could get caught on a branch or irritate her legs. When she feels uncomfortable wearing a jacket, she lets us know by rubbing on a tree as soon as she gets outside. The Pomppa design is simple: it’s comfortable and warm!


Muzzles are helping thousands of dogs and their guardians.

KPA, a leader in the field of animal training and in the science and application of marker-based positive reinforcement, supports muzzle conditioning.

So does Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) Emeritus.

Fear Free courses are developed and written by the most respected veterinary and pet experts in the world, including boarded veterinary behaviorists, boarded veterinary anesthesiologists, pain experts, boarded veterinary internists, veterinary technicians (behavior), experts in shelter medicine, animal training, grooming, boarding, and more. Here’s their guide for muzzle training!

The Muzzle Up! Project is a wonderful community full of responsible dog lovers.

I have two reactive dogs, but they aren’t the only ones who are muzzle trained.

Muzzle training/conditioning is a great skill for all dogs to have. I use a muzzle to prevent kleptomaniac behavior when the “leave it” command is being practiced…or ignored.

Muzzles are also a great tool to use on walks for dogs who have PICA like Freja (pictured above).

Like kennel training, I like to desensitize all of my dogs to muzzles “just in case” they need one in the future during an emergency. If they were sick or injured and had to be muzzled, they would feel comfortable because they associate it with positive things. A dog who isn’t muzzle trained would feel anxious or turn into a potential bite risk.

Cats Are Poopin’ but I’m Not Scoopin’

I purchased our first Litter-Robot 3 Connect in 2019 when my mom’s health started to decline. I knew that my time was going to be even more valuable than normal, so I needed extra help with cat care while I was away from home for an extended period of time every day.

I was worried that our semi-feral Bamboo would have a hard time adjusting to it, but she LOVED it right away! The Litter-Robot is in the same room as a top-entry litter box and two Curver basketweave litter boxes, so five cats have a variety of options. All five of them definitely prefer how spacious (and clean) the Litter-Robot is.

I get an alert through the AutoPets Connect app when the bag in the drawer is full, so all I have to do is replace the bag and throw the old litter out — it takes less than a minute! Since my five cats prefer to use the Litter-Robot over their other boxes, I usually replace the bag every other day.

I am a huge fan of efficiency, so being able to focus on other responsibilities every day makes the investment worth it for me. Without the Litter-Robot, I would have at least two other basic litter boxes. That would take up more space, and I would spend at least ten extra minutes per day cleaning litter boxes when I could be spending quality time with my cats.

A Festive Foster Failure

Vinnie was bonded to his sister Milana who we lost to nasal lymphoma this summer, so everything has been a bummer. They were Emily’s first foster failures in 2010.

He used to travel with Milana as her support system during her long struggle with IBD, but he has been stuck at home for months.

Today he hopped in our Sleepypod and took a trip to the backyard for some holiday photos! We love this carrier so much. It helps cats feel more secure than other carriers we have tried in the past.

He has been very comfortable on a harness and leash in all different types of environments because we trained for years, so doing an outdoor photoshoot was not risky.

Productivity + Time Blocking

When you have multiple animals to care for, you usually have a to-do list that’s larger than a male Caucasian Ovcharka!

Almost everyone has a list of things that takes longer than time allows them to complete. When you use the time blocking method, you know exactly how long to spend on each priority.

I had a habit of saying “yes” to everything, so I became overwhelmed easily. Time blocking is an easy way to remind yourself that do not have time for additional tasks that aren’t your priorities.

Every day, I set aside 5 minutes to tidy my cat area. If I don’t keep up with it, it can easily become a mess.

Track your time with a kitchen timer like this cat one.

Get started with this template!

A Tail of Long Lost Siblings: Fred & Fiona

Someone in California decided to abandon a dog in a park in 2014. He was brought to a shelter, wasn’t claimed, and was listed for adoption.

I was working at the shelter as an adoption counselor at the time, so I met him before he was available to the public. He was rambunctious, totally untrained, and a typical husky teenager.

I remember showing him to someone who traveled from Hollywood to meet him after she saw his photo listed on the shelter’s website. She quickly decided that he was “too much dog” for her.

I knew that he needed the right kind of home that could handle his personality and strong husky breed traits. He acted like he lived in someone’s backyard with little to no attention that he craved so desperately.

I was a cat lady at the time and lived with my original foster failure cats, Milana and Vinnie, and a rough-looking FIV+ cat named Chester who I took in from the streets.

I was not looking to adopt a large dog, but there was something irresistible about “Freddie.” I just knew that he HAD to be mine.

I decided that doing a cat test would decide whether or not he would come home with me. My co-workers helped him meet a confident cat at the shelter, and he passed with flying colors.

Fred’s shelter intake photo — I am holding his leash! He eventually ate those shoes…

He came home with me in July of 2014 and was my adventure buddy in Southern California

Fred’s classic “I’M FREEEEEE!” gallop at the dog beach

In July 2015, we had to move from California to Wisconsin. I packed a few bags, gave away most of my belongings to a thrift store that is run by my friends’ rescue Foster Army in Riverside, CA because I had to have room for my big boy Fred, 2 foster rabbits, and my 5 cats. Priorities, right?

After we got to Wisconsin, we did some fostering and adopted 2 dog friends, Freja & Josie.

In 2017, someone in Perris, CA decided to give a perfect dog named Diamond away at a yard sale when she was neglected and tied to a chain in their yard. The woman who took “Diamond” couldn’t keep her, so someone in the rescue community networked her.

Someone I knew tagged me on a post about her, and I got the same feeling that I had when I met Fred for the first time. I knew that she had to come to me. The original plan was for her to be my temporary foster. Whoops!

She fit in perfectly right away, so she became a foster failure in record time. I decided to rename her because she didn’t respond to “Diamond”. Since I already had Fred and Freja, I went with another F name — Fiona!

From 2017 to 2019, I was frequently asked if they were related. Fred was listed as a husky/shepherd mix at the shelter, but he had a lot of goofy bully breed traits too. I had him tested in 2014 through another DNA company, but there were questionable and incomplete results. His test came back with Siberian Husky, American Staffordshire Terrier, and A LOT of unknowns.

I thought that Fiona was probably husky, maybe shepherd and possibly lab?

I wanted to do a new DNA test for them to see if they had some of the same breeds because they were so similar.

I was not satisfied with Fred’s previous results, so I started researching other tests.

I saw that some of my friends had tested their dogs through Embark. After reading about it, I learned that:

Embark tests more breeds than any other test — over 350 breeds!

Embark is the most accurate dog DNA test on the market

Embark’s Breed + Health Test tests for 190+ health conditions

The test analyzes over 200K genetic markers

Embark is the world’s only canine DNA relative finder

Save $50 on Breed + Health Kit! Use code BARK50 at checkout. This offer could end at any time! Shop Now!

200+ Genetic Health Risks, 350+ Breeds, types, & varieties

I joined the Embark Dog DNA Discussion Facebook group before I ordered tests and was amazed at how many incredible stories there were. I remember reading about a dog who got symptoms of a condition that their Embark test detected shortly after they got their results back.

I wanted to know what types of genetic health conditions my dogs had so I could have time to prepare. Finding out what breeds they were was just a fun addition.

I also tested my purebred samoyed who I adopted from a samoyed rescue in 2016 just to see if she came back with any health concerns.

Her results came back first, so I anxiously waited for Fred and Fiona’s to find out if they were similar breeds.

Freja’s skin issues quickly cleared up after she switched to raw food.

When I got their results back, the first thing I noticed was their breed lists.

I was not expecting their results to be that similar! I figured that it was just a weird coincidence since so many huskies and bully breeds are backyard bred/dumped in California.

Then I started looking at their family trees…

I knew that the generated family trees aren’t 100% accurate sometimes, but they were still weirdly similar. Did I really adopt 2 dogs who were this alike?

I decided to post in the Embark Discussion group on Facebook to see if an expert could help me wrap my head around the results.

I learned that I could get “relatedness” information from Embark directly.

The COR (or coefficient of relatedness) between Fiona and Freddie is 51%, so their system indicates that they are full siblings!

I have no idea if they feel like they know each other from their younger life in California, but they are a perfect match!

I really hope that I will get an alert that another close family member is added to the Embark database in the future. I can’t help but be curious about their past.

Follow their adventures @fredandfionareunite

Order your own Embark DNA Kit!

200+ Genetic Health Risks, 350+ Breeds, types, & varieties

Read more about Fred & Fiona at!

Puppy Portraits!

The holiday season is here, so we are working on creating gifts for the animal lover in your life.

Issac offers custom pet portraits. His most popular option is a 16×20 for $150 (+ shipping).

Over the summer, he used his other talents to create a relaxing area in the woods off of a trail that the dogs love because it’s loaded with scents from the local wildlife.

It’s a perfect area for holiday photos!

Here are some dog photos that Emily has taken over the years:

A sneak peek is coming soon!

2020 Treat Glow Up

Josie (aka Bibbin’) was able to participate in an outdoor, socially distanced “pit bull only” obedience class that was organized by Apple Valley Pit Crew over the summer, but she hasn’t been able to do anything since. Ya girl has started to resemble a potato.

If she could create her own schedule, she’d have a snack every 5 minutes, watch TV, take 20 naps, and would only “do her business” 2 feet from the door. I *know* that she has been through some rough times, so I did not anticipate this level of entitlement…but here we are!

She is intelligent, stubborn, difficult, pushy and needy…but food motivated. Positive reinforcement helps her anxiety and mental stimulation, so she needed a treat that breaks apart easily that she loves so we can work on dropping her weight before the snow hits. Naked Southern Californians and cold weather don’t mix, so she’ll be under layers of fleece and blankets until May.

I usually go through products until I find my favorite (and the animals do not mind), and the winner is Raised Right. I can break them up into tiny pieces so Josie can have 5 separate rewards out of one chip. Fiona can be obnoxiously picky, but she loooooves them. Freja is on a limited ingredient diet, so this treat is perfect for her — it only has 1 ingredient. It’s also a treat for both dogs and cats, so we don’t have to have containers scattered all over the house.

The chips fit perfectly in Zip Top silicone bags that I am obsessed with. They’re reusable, freezer safe, dishwasher safe and microwave safe. Pairing efficient products together makes life with a herd of rejects so much easier.