By Angela J. Willard (Richards)
When Hazel Smith decided to bring a friendly special needs Chihuahua into her home, she never imagined how he would change her life.
A retired police officer, Hazel suffered from agoraphobia where even going outside to cut her grass was challenging. She was on several medications to help manage the symptoms of agoraphobia. She was a prisoner in her own home.
During this season of her life, her elderly Dalmatian "Binky” crossed over the rainbow bridge. The loss sent Hazel in search for a new companion. Hazel checked ads, visited humane societies and SPCAs in search for a new dog.
“One day when my husband and I were out looking we came across ‘Gunny’ a Dogue de Bordeaux. and we adopted him for my husband.”
Then finally Hazel came across an ad on Craigslist. A military family was being relocated and needed to rehome their 1½ year-old Chihuahua, “Hercules”.
“I called immediately,” explained Hazel. “I told the lady I would be out to get him when my husband got home from work. She said if he was still there I could come get him. Worried someone else might get him I told her to hold him for me and that I was on the way. I called my best friend and told her I needed her to take me to get him. When we arrived I fell in love with him right off.”
Hazel claimed the five-pound Chihuahua as her own and renamed him “Hooch”. “I thought it would be funny since we had a Dogue De Bordeaux”.
Hazel soon learned the meaning of the term “Velcro dog” but Hooch had very good reason to not want to leave Hazel’s side. Hooch is deaf.
Because Hooch wanted to be carried all the time, this made it difficult for Hazel to get things done around the house. “I tried carriers on the market for pets and babies, nothing worked for both of us.”
In her desperation to be able to be hands-free and still care for Hooch with his special needs, she decided to create a solution to her problem. “One day I picked up a canvas [remnant] that I had left over, and the Dog-On Bag hands-free pet carrier was born.”
With her new invention, Hazel and Hooch were able to not only get things done around the house, but leave the house as well. “When I had Hooch with me I discovered I could venture outside, away from home and even on short trips to a friend’s beach cottage, ALONE.”
This was a huge accomplishment for Hazel who could barely be in her own yard without anxiety setting in.
Every day Hooch and Hazel would go out for a bike rides and people would ask about her homemade Hooch carrier. She decided to venture out even more and make more carriers in different designs and then set up a table at a local Bark in the Park event. By the end of the day she had nearly sold out of her Dog-On Bags. A business was born.
Now, Hazel and Hooch have an in-home business, a website, and several retailers carry the Dog-On Bag. She has even expanded the reach of the Dog-On Bag as far as Italy. Her new-found strength and courage even set her on stage to audition for Shark Tank in seeking help for her business.
“Because of Hooch, I went from being medicated and scared to leave home, to no more medication for agoraphobia and panic attacks, and standing up at pet expos in crowds, and even auditioning for Shark Tank. Hooch saved me, gave me my life back, and more.”
Pet-Friendly Attire for a Walk Down the Aisle
For couples planning a wedding, there is greater opportunity than ever to weave personal elements into every aspect of the big day. Many traditional “rules” of wedding planning have given way to let couples celebrate as they see fit – even including their four-legged family members and inviting guests to do the same.
Whether you’re a bride whose furry friend will play a leading role in the festivities, or a guest bringing your pooch along for the party, these tips from the pet experts at PetSmart will help ensure your canine companions join the celebration in comfort and style.
Put your pet to work. Think ahead about how your pet will participate in the fun: as a member of the wedding party, perhaps as ring bearer or flower girl? Give your pet a rehearsal run to be sure she’s up for the task.
Choose a fur kid-friendly venue. If pets are welcome, make sure they’ll also be safe. For instance, avoid freshly fertilized lawns and plants, as well as flowers that are toxic to pets. Find out where your fur babies can go and where they need to be on a leash. If possible, give your pet a few sneak peeks of the location.
Don’t make pets suffer for fashion. Skip the puppy couture version of a tight pair of shoes or an itchy shirt tag, and choose a stylish pup-friendly ensemble instead. Made of lightweight, breathable materials, each piece of the Martha Stewart Pets® wedding collection for dogs features timeless design elements, simple color palettes and complementary accessories such as collars and leashes to help ensure your pooch puts her best foot forward. The limited-edition line of dapper, sweet and sophisticated wedding attire, including elegant tuxedos to bow-adorned dresses, is available at www.petsmart.com and PetSmart stores. Remember, a “dress rehearsal” can help you make sure your fur kids can sit and stay comfortably in their wedding day attire.
Pamper your pet. Now is not the time to skimp on pampering. From lush, oxygen-infused baths to haircuts fit for a show dog, nail trims to non-toxic chalking and decorative stenciling, let a groomer take the lead on your pet’s look for the big day.
Keep everyone fed. Make sure your four-legged friends have more than table scraps to nosh on during the reception. Serve food in a portable bowl and bring treats, too. In case one of the guests can’t resist helping Fido sneak a snack, be sure the human menu doesn’t contain anything that’s harmful to pets. Provide plenty of fresh water, and if the venue is outdoors, use a large block of ice to keep your canine’s water cool all day.
Make sure your fur kid is the party type. Before committing your pet to a vibrant celebration, be sure he’s comfortable with commotion, loud music, crowds and strangers. Consider signing up for a training class beforehand; brushing up on your pet’s best behavior can only enhance the day.
Assign a chaperone. If you have a leading role in the big day as the bride or a member of the wedding party, recruit a staff or family member to double as your pet’s dedicated chaperone. Arm them with a pooper scooper and pick up bags. Help create a quiet, safe space for the chaperone to guide your pet away from the excitement if it becomes overwhelming.
For more fashionable inspiration and tips to ensure wedding party pets remain healthy, happy and stress-free, visit www.PetSmart.com or follow PetSmart on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Sources: Pet Smart | Family Features
Paradise Pets Magazine