The Ultimate Treat Guide

I hope you and your pup friend are having a bark-tastic day! I have written a treat guide that I am super excited to share with you. Abby and I share our top treats in this post. My hope is that if you have a sensitive or picky pup this will give you some new ideas.


I learned quickly that most supermarkets where I live carry very few gluten-free dog treats. Therefore, even though I was skeptical, I began researching treats online. I eventually ended up on Chewy. I would highly recommend shopping here because the prices are the best I have seen. Additionally, they ship fast. The longest I had waited for a package from them was three days and I never pay extra to get it here quicker.

A Healthy Balance 

Research has shown that about 54% of dogs are overweight or obese. Yes, dogs enjoy eating. However, their humans are responsible for feeding them properly.  Dogs do not spell love F-O-O-D. On the contrary, they spell it T-I-M-E. The number one reason our pets are overweight is we overfeed them by about 20%.

Those “extras” are another reason dogs are putting on weight. Table scraps is a bad habit to be in for many reasons. High caution should be used and lots of research to know what is digestible for your dog. For example, grapes are dealy but carrots are good for dogs. Too many large cookies, jerky, or biscuit treats contribute to the problem. Lastly, an audience of bones puts on weight.

Of course, the breed of dog effects their weight. Similar to humans, even those who are more prone to being overweight should take preventive measures.

I calculate an estimate of the calories that Abby takes in daily. I schedule ahead of time when she will get a bigger treat such as a bone. When using a bigger treat I will decrease her kibble intake for the day.

Things to consider when buying treats

First, I consider ingredients. I prefer a treat that includes a fruit or veggie. I also consider chemicals added. I go towards low calorie treats that I can break easily. I do this so that we can use them in training. Lastly, the price must be considered. I would say I get two bags once every month or every other month. I recommend also thinking of why you are giving your dog the treat, for example, for training or to relieve stress.

Fruitables Skinny Minis Soft & Chewy 


I love the size of these cookies. Moreover, they are easy for me to break. I love that the main ingredient in this cookie are fruits. They smell like people food. Rich in natural antioxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber. Low-calorie treat is great for training and as a guilt-free reward for your dog. No wheat, corn, soy or artificial flavors or colors.

Zuke’s Mini Naturals


Again, I love the size. I break these treats as well. These are best kept in the package not put in the cookie jar so that they stay soft enough to break. Seasonings and whole foods help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Less than 3.5 calories per treat. Great for training.

Vita Essentials 


The biggest downside to these treats would be the price. I don’t love them. They are nearly impossible to break. I love that these treats are raw. The calories are a bit higher than the cookie options I talked about above. They are super smelly which can be good when playing find it with treats outdoors. These can be used as high reward treats.



Dogs enjoy chewing. They chew to relieve stress, boredom, to keep their jaw in shape, and to clean their teeth. This is why we offer them bones or chew toys.


Fight bad breath with these natural, wholesome bones made from a blend of fruits and veggies. Assists in removing plaque and tartar.

Bully Sticks

Bully sticks are a healthy long last chew treat. They can be a little pricey.  This is a fantastic alternative to Rawhide which can be dangerous for dogs. Only made from high-protein beef muscle, bully sticks are ideal for your dog. Beef is a complete source of amino acids, which support your dog’s muscles, brain, skin, and coat. This treat is the highest calorie treat that Abby eats. They do have a unique smell but it is not awful in my option.


Elk Antler 


Abby has an Elk Antler on hand that she usually chews in the morning or evening. She has had the same one for at least three months. Antlers are high in healthy minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. The majority of antlers will last a dog months. No smell. I advise researching what brand to get. The first one I had purchased for her she had no interest in.

Himalayan Dog Chew

This is an alternative to the Elk Antler. Again, you can expect this treat to last for a minimum of one month. All natural ingredients: yak and cow milk, salt and lime juice. At the end, when the treat looks too small, you pop it in the microwave for another treat. It becomes a cheese puff texture treat which is devoured quickly. 

Non-Food Chews 

Abbys favorite chew toy is the Nylabone. Nylabones are zero calories. There are a wide variety of textures and flavors to keep your pup engaged. It is essential to note the weight on the packaging. If you purchase one that is less than your dog’s weight you can expect it to break easily.



It’s Begining to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It is a delight to share our Christmas photos with our friends. I hope you enjoy our simple pictures and that they bring a smile to your face this Christmas season.

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Featuring: Fluffy on the left. She has been with us now for about four years. She showed up one day and worked her way into our hearts. This year in addition to playing with Christmas ornaments, she is enjoying undecorating my little artificial tree.

Gracey in the middle. She has been my princess for five years now. The others look up to her and know she’s in charge. She adores all things Christmas and is known to have a fit at the end of the season.

On the right: Sadie Rose my curled ear cat. She is the most loyal cat who comes on command and checks on me frequently when I don’t feel well. She enjoys playing with everything Chrismas. Additionally, she loves laying under the tree.



Abby is my puppy also, as many of you know, my service dog in training. She enjoyed “helping” decorate the Christmas tree. Moreover, she is fitting in well with her love for Christmas.





The stockings of my fur-babies who have passed. It is vital to keep them a part of Christmas for me because each one loved the season so much

Thanksgiving Inspired Kong

I had been in search of a new Kong recipe to let Abby try for Thanksgiving. I was disappointed with the Thanksgiving recipe on the Knong webpage. The recipes are not all bad. However, Abby has allergies. Every dog and their human are unique so check out their recipes to see if the Thanksgiving one is an option for your friend.  I figured I would create my own and share with you.

Don’t forget that table scraps can be dangerous for any pet! Filling their Kong is a special and safe way for them to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. After all, aren’t they what you’re most thankful for?


Thanksgiving Day Breakfast Kong


  • Peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Water
  • Kibble
  • Kibble soaked in water

At the moment this is Abby’s favorite Kong recipe. I use a nutribullet to mix the ingredients but a blender would work as well.  I combine than half a teaspoon of peanut butter, two small slices of banana, and cover the bottom of the cup with water. Then mix everything for ten to fifteen seconds. After I pour the mix into a bowl and take a handful of kibble to throw in. I allow this to sit for at least thirty minutes. Last, I stuff the kong alternating between the mixture and kibble soaked in plain water. On top, I seal with peanut butter. Most times, we can get two-three meals out of this.

Bananas are a great source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, biotin, and copper. Bananas help boost the immune system, replenish electrolytes, and promote skin and coat health. In moderation, bananas can make a healthy, low-calorie treat for dogs. Peanut butter benefits include protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin.

Abby’s Thanksgiving Kong


  • Sweet Potato
  • Coconut Oil
  • Kibble
  • Carrot
  • Pumpkin
  • I cooked a small piece of sweet potato and then cut it in half. I used half here and the other half later.  I used the nutribullet again.

I combined the sweet potato, water, and a little coconut oil together to make a paste. I do not have actual measurements because I use very little of each ingredient. I take a small tablespoon used for cereal and put each ingredient on the tip. I also added two raw frozen nuggets, which is optional.  Again, mix for ten to fifteen seconds. I pour the mixture into a bowl and add a handful of kibble.

I cut the other half of the sweet potato into tiny pieces. I slice the carrot so that I have three slices than cut again into tiny pieces. I added this to my mixture above.

I stuff about half the Kong with the mixture than I add some organic pumpkin. Then I stuff the other half and top with a bit of peanut butter.

Benefits of what is included:

Sweet potatoes are great for digestive health because they’re high in dietary fiber. They’re also low in fat and contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. Sweet potatoes are rich in the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in your dog’s body, which is essential for your dog’s vision, growth, and muscle strength.


Carrots are a good source of fiber, naturally cleans their teeth, Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which helps eyesight, and good for cholesterol.

Pumpkin is amazing for digestion issues of all sorts. Furthermore, it has antioxidants, can help with weight loss, good for the eyes, immune health, and hydrates.

*Note I freeze the Kong from seven to ten hours. Their webpage suggests about four hours.


Wishing you and your doggie friend a very happy Thanksgiving with Love, Victoria, and Abby!

Overflowing Kong Recipie

Abby and I enjoy making meal time creative, fun and tiring for her. Each meal is a variety of feeders and games. I purchased Abby’s  Kong Classic on Chewy. Today I want to share a Knog recipe with you.



First off, if you don’t know what a kong is, allow, me to enlighten you. “The kong is the gold standard of dog toys and has become the staple for dogs around the world for over forty years. Offering enrichment by helping satisfy dogs’ instinctual needs, the KONG Classic’s unique all-natural red rubber formula is ultra-durable with an erratic bounce that is ideal for dogs that like to chew while also fulfilling a dog’s need to play.” If you need more information on the kong visit their webpage.

While it is a toy, personally, we use it for meal time.

A few benefits of this feeder toy include:

  • Mental stimulation
  • Helps in behavior modification
  • Benefits oral health
  • Encourages physical activity
  • Entertainment

Many people stuff the kong with treats, peanut butter, or cheese. But, like I said we use it for meal time, so we use kibble. Once in a while, I make an extra special kong and that is the recipe I would like to share with you.

First, I soak about a handful to two handfuls of dog food in water. I just cover the food with water, not much is needed. I allow it to soak about fifteen to twenty minutes. Then I begin to fill the kong first with a few scoops of kibble (a little bit goes a long ways). If you don’t want to have to hold the kong it fits nicely on a mason jar. Next, I add one tablespoon of organic pumpkin. I use Nummy Tum Tum. More kibble is next. I put in a tablespoon or less of coconut oil. Then, fill it to the brim with kibble. I seal it with a swipe of Jiff peanut butter and put four pieces of regular kibble on top.

Each of the extras (pumpkin, coconut oil, and peanut butter) all have benefits for dogs. Pumpkin is amazing for digestion issues of all sorts. Furthermore, it has antioxidants, can help with weight loss, good for the eyes, immune health, and hydrates. Coconut oil is good for the skin and coat, helps digestion, antibacterial, and muscles. Lastly, peanut butter is tricky. The number one rule is to avoid any product with the sweetener xylitol, because it is deadly to dogs.  Use it sparingly with your fur friend. A few benefits include  protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin,

Our final step is freezing the kong! The longer the better. For breakfast, we freeze it about eight hours. For dinner, we freeze it ten hours. It takes Abby anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes.

Do you use a kong? If so, share your favorite recipe!

Pup Pops

Summer can be hard on dogs as too much heat is not a good thing. Keeping them cool to avoid health issues is vital. There are lots of creative ways to keep your pup cool this summer. One of our favorites is pup pops. I make these frozen treats in under five minutes. They are healthy, inexpensive, and given five paws by Abby. It is easy to have variety as well. I think this is also great for dogs who don’t drink enough in the heat. Nothing replaces water but hopefully, this helps a bit.

I usually use what we have on hand so I am not buying anything extra. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon of coconut oil, a fruit, and some water. Abby is eight months so I water it down a bit. She is very easy-going and doesn’t mind it one bit. Adding the water allows the mix to go further as well.

Some specific combinations we use are:

Blueberry (4-8), coconut oil, and water.

Banna (1/2 or less), coconut oil, and water.

Carrot (1/2), Banna (1/2 or less), coconut oil, and water.

Watermelon (2-5 pieces), coconut oil, and water.

Strawberry (2-3), coconut oil, and water.

I use an inexpensive ice try. I make two sizes. I do not fill it with the mix. I use just enough to cover the bottom so that they are very thin. This allows Abby to have a few a day. The “bigger” ones I make are less than half way full. Once made it will last us at least two weeks.

I love to make a few batches and slowly freeze them over a few days so that I don’t have to make them as often. I use a Nutri bullet to blend it all. I throw together the mix then refrigerate till I am ready to freeze them. They probably take about a half hour to an hour to freeze. We store them in a Tupperware container.

I have this great chart which I will share with you. However, I will note what I will never use in Abby’s pup pops and why.  To me, it is a general guide and I research the best I can before allowing Abby to have it.

it is a general guide and I research the best I can before allowing Abby to have it.


I would personally refrain from oranges (because of the string and high sugar content), doggie bacon (I don’t allow Abby to eat this at all), and raspberries (they have some xylitol) from the filling list.

As I mentioned before we use coconut oil as our filler. Coconut oil is healthy and Abby loves it. Under no circumstances would I add bacon grease because that is unneeded fat or peanut butter because many sources list this as toxic. I know many people view peanut butter as debatable if it is or isn’t toxic for dogs, but I’d rather play it safe. I’m not positive I would use honey either because of the sugar content.

Personally, I have opted recently to avoid rawhide after some research and hearing some horror stories. Therefore from the chew section, we only use carrots.

I am not saying that no one can use those ingredients we just personally do not. Each pup is unique and has unique needs. I try to be selective with what Abby eats for a few reasons; she will be a working dog, therefore, needs to be healthy and doesn’t do well with anything overly processed.

We will be trying more veggie pup pops soon! Some veggies you might want to add include but are not limited to broccoli, peas, celery, zucchini, or kale.

Share your favorite pup pop with us! If you try any of our recipies be sure to let us know what you think.

DIY Dog Games

I wanted to properly introduce Abby on my blog, before jumping into a post. Abby is my Service Dog In Training. She is a rescue. Abby is a lab mix who is eight months old. We are in the beginning stages of training, however, her progress is astonishing. She has only been home for a month.



Like most pet parents, I frequently post pictures of Abby on my Facebook. After receiving a question I decided to do this post on how I feed Abby. This is by no means only for service dogs; any dog can benefit from this. Additionally, let me point out, we do not do this for every meal.

Let’s begin with basics. Dogs have the tendency to eat fast. Some will basically swallow forgetting to chew which causes issues. One serious issue is “gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) which is air excessive air, fluid, and food filling the stomach, followed by swelling (dilatation) of the stomach cavity.” Other dogs will vomit which is less serious but let’s face it we don’t want to regularly deal with that either. Then there is the issue of the dog becoming hungry quicker.


This is Abby’s bowl. It was the same price as her “normal” bowl at Wal-Mart. In addition, we do not give her a full meal at one time. It is split at least into two portions.

Meal Time is Game Time

Games engage a dog’s mind and help burn a little energy. Having a dog play for their food makes meal time exciting and rewarding. Abby is a huge fan of games. She would play games all day if she could.

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Muffin Tin Ball Game. This is by far Abby’s favorite game at the moment. It is so simple to put together. This is an old muffin tin. I drop 1-4 pieces of food in a section than cover with a dog ball. She takes off the balls and eats the food.

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The towel sniff out game. Take an old towel. Then simply place kibble and roll up. The object is for the dog to unroll the towel.


A piece or a few pieces of kibble on the floor then place a cup over it. This one got old quick for us. I have seen people stack cups and place kibble in between. However, Abby doesn’t like to play that.

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This game we used scraps of fabric and rolled up kibble. Next stuffed the ball. Abby pulls out each piece and unrolls.


She also enjoys playing hid and seek with her food. I hid it in different boxes around one floor of the house. At times we have her games in different rooms as well.

Those are our DIY dog games. Let us know your favorite DIY dog games!

Debbie to the Rescue: Life with a Service Dog

Please give a warm welcome to Sammi who is an inspiration to everyone she encounters. A while back I posted on Chronically Hopeful asking if anyone with a service dog would share a little bit of their story. I am honored that Sammi said she would share because through those weeks I have had the honor of chatting with her which is something I cherish. I know her story will deeply touch you!
Every morning when I open my eyes I’m greeted by blurry vision, the inability to hear, and the dread of what’s going to hurt first today. In addition to all of those negative things, I also wake up to a little wet nose attached to a tiny yellow lab telling me mom it’s time to get up I’m hungry! I roll over and feel around for my glasses but because of that little ball of energy I have waking me up, I don’t need to reach for my hearing aids. That pup is my ears, my lifeline, my hearing dog that I truly don’t know how I lived with before I got her.

I was born with Stickler Syndrome, a primarily genetic collagen deficiency. I say primarily because I’m one of the lucky few to be the first generation with this syndrome in my family. Here is the short answer to those who don’t know what it is(which is 99% of the people I meet): Stickler Syndrome is a progressive connective tissue disorder that affects my hearing, vision, and joints.  To elaborate a bit more – I am severely nearsighted, at very high risk of retinal detachment(which I have thankfully avoided so far), I lack collagen in my joints which results in widespread, daily, chronic pain that I honestly don’t know what’s going to hurt day to day. Finally I have moderate/severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss that can progress at any time.

Now that there is a bit of a backstory to me more about my service dog, Debbie. I started research into obtaining a service dog 6-7 years ago when I was about 18 and took several years debating if it was a good idea for me. I worried if I was disabled enough to qualify, would one truly help me, could I care for a dog myself, so many things discouraged me from applying for several years. Finally, at 21 I really took a good look at my life and one thing that really struck me was I was truly scared to be alone. My hearing loss made being anywhere without someone with me something I dreaded. I may be able to hear fairly well with my hearing aids in but only if the person is looking at me and I’m not distracted. I have no sound directional awareness, I may hear someone call me, or a car beep or an emergency vehicle coming but where that noise comes from is what I can’t figure out and that can be dangerous. In my research, I found NEADS, based in Princeton, MA. Once I came across their site I knew I found who I was looking for and I hoped they could help me.

A hearing dog has the ability to quite literally be ears that actually work for the handler.  Debbie alerts me to everything a person with normal hearing may take for granted that they can hear. She tells me when someone is trying to get my attention when a car is coming up behind me, when the fire alarm goes off, when I drop my keys and don’t hear it, and many other ways.  Due to my chronic pain, Debbie was also continued with some basic assistance dog work as well as her hearing dog work. She is able to pick up my debit card/money or my cell phone if I drop it, or press the handicap door button if needed. There are not many things she can’t do!!

NEADS is truly an amazing organization from the second I submitted my application and still through today, 2 1/2 years after I brought Debbie home. What truly drew me to them was that they provide service dogs to veterans and victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing for no charge at all. Being from Boston the fact that they helped the victims of that atrocious crime really stuck with me and I knew that they were an organization I could and would love. They also use local prisons to help train the puppies that go through the program, and as part of team training on campus, we have the option to formally meet the inmate handler. This opportunity was truly amazing and I’m so proud to have a dog from this program, especially after seeing the pride and joy all of the inmates expressed when I met them.


The process I went through:

  1. 12-15 page application submitted online, which detailed what my need was, medical documentation that I had the disability I claimed, and character letters from someone who knew me.
  2. After my application was accepted I had to go to the NEADS campus for an in-person interview that was several hours long. We went over my original application and what my needs truly were. I was officially accepted that day and the wait began.
  3. I received an email detailing who my dog would be and to set up what two weeks I could come to the campus to do team training.
  4. In person, team training was two weeks long. I lived on campus for that time with three other women who also were training with their new service dogs. We had group training every day and by midweek had the dogs full time. Having those other three women was truly amazing we are still all friends today and they are the reason I was able to get through my first year with Debbie as easily as I did.
  5. The final step in this process is graduation! NEADS holds a formal graduation for all successful teams 2 times a year. While Debbie was already working for me having graduation as an official way to say yes we can do this is priceless.

Having a service dog is not perfect, there are days that Debbie has an off day – she is a dog after all! People still do not understand that a young, seemingly healthy (to them) woman who is not blind may need a service dog for another reason. The laws have not caught up to the new craze to claim your pet is a working dog and there are stores that I am not comfortable going into alone just Debbie and me because fake service dogs are not told to leave. But despite all of these negatives making the choice to get Debbie has been the best one I’ve ever made. I can now confidently go out alone, be home alone and move out on my own and feel safe. I know that I will ALWAYS be told when someone is at the door when the fire alarm is going off when a car is coming up behind me if someone is trying to talk to me. Debbie truly is ears that actually work for me and I am beyond thankful for her and the life she has given me!