Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbows Bridge Poem


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…. 

Author unknown…

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372



Is the Pain of Losing a Dog Stopped You From Getting Another One?

Has Losing a Dog Ever Stopped You from Getting Another One?

The thing with animals is that they have terribly short lives; heartbreak comes so very quickly.

I’ll never understand people who don’t like animals.

When I was about 10, my sister, my Mum, my Dad and I (back when we were a foursome and not an eightsome) rented a log cabin in Wales for my Mum’s birthday. My parents loved to take us on the kind of holidays that would involve wellies and fields and cows and floods. So much rain. Have you ever been to Wales in October? It’s wetter than an otter’s pocket.

We’d stay for a week in the middle of nowhere and play card games inside while the rain beat down on the wood outside, the tiny TV showing some Welsh-speaking soap that we attempted to watch, making up our own storylines. My sister and I would fight and then write in our respective diaries, underlining in different colored gel-pens the many reasons why the other was a meanie.

Me and six-month-old Bumper. Check out my Kappa tracksuit! So ’90s.

We loved it.

The Octobers in Wales all sort of blur into one, as memories do when you’re a child unless something remarkable happens, like you got your ears pierced or you kissed one of the Woods twins in the field by your house in the summer. One of those holidays does stick in my mind, though.

The log cabin that year was part of what I remember to be like a nature reserve. It probably wasn’t, there were probably houses right by us. But I remember the exciting isolation, feeling like Laura Ingalls or an Enid Blyton character. Every day we played out our own Famous Five adventure, but with four of us, two being adults.

Outside the cabin was a fenced-in field with horses in it, and despite being the most allergic child on earth with streaming eyes and sneezing explosively every time I looked at them, my sister and I would go and chat to them, and give them presents of grass and sugar cubes.

One morning we watched as the horses cantered around the field and spied a tiny little kitten dancing around their hooves, a tiny little thing, all bones and ears. Our parents came to investigate and to our surprise this teeny wild kitty came bounding over, lolloping around on paws too big for her and crashing to a stop at our feet.

Little old lady Bella, the day before she died last month.

When she discovered we were her friends, she didn’t leave us alone. We quickly realized that she was alone in the world — bar the horses — and was probably going to fade away to nothing. We drove out to the nearest supermarket and stocked up on kitten food and fed her every morning while we were there, her tiny, broken mews waking us in the morning. We’d head out for the day and return in the dark, her head lifting from the outside deck of the cabin as she heard the car and jumping up onto all four paws as we ran over to her to say good evening.

The farmer who owned the land told us how she’d been abandoned by her mother, that she would surely die. He didn’t have the time or money to look after her, this pretty little thing with those big brown eyes and the almost smiling mouth that dribbled with pleasure if you gave her some attention. She returned home with us.

Bella ruled the roost. We doted on her, and she adored us — she’d come into my bedroom at night and sleep under my duvet with me, her head on the pillow next to mine. She died last month, an old thing, but still pretty and loving and tiny.

Bella was joined by Bumper, the most ridiculously loving Boxer you could ever imagine, who would shake his whole body in joy in lieu of a tail when he saw you. I remember hot days walking in the parks near our house, hiding in the long grass and staring up at the sky, with six weeks of summer holidays stretching out endlessly while he licked my face to tell me he liked me and that I was all right.

Bumper at Christmas with the family. This was pretty normal for us.

His presence in our house was massive, a character so huge that you couldn’t help but love him endlessly, even when he would eat all the turkey for the Boxing Day dinner overnight and then crap all over the living room before our guests arrived.

Bumper was there when my parents broke up and I left school. I would walk him around town while listening to my iPod and stomping, stomping, stomping all the hurt out. Bumper was there while my Dad went through chemo, twice, while I disappeared, unable to watch it happen. Bumper was there to be his best friend while I ran off to Ibiza so that I could pretend it wasn’t happening.

The thing with big animals (animals in general) is that they have terribly short lives. Ten years is nothing, an instant, a blur of walks and hugs and throwing massive sticks into lakes. A massive family presence, visibly fading and ageing after only a few years until you know they’re about to go, so you run away again.

I’m 26 now, and as with many people my age, I can’t imagine actually ever being able to afford to live in a house with a garden.

There is an ache in me that knows that I want a cat or a dog to be mates with and hang out with. Our balcony is a perfect home for the many pigeons who come and hang out and leave their mess all over it, but we won’t be able to get a pet. But a big part of me thinks that’s OK, because the heartbreak of losing an animal comes all too soon. And I don’t want anything to run away from.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372


11 Hazardous Items to Ban From Your Home For Your Dogs Health

Some items are so dangerous to dogs’ health they should never be in any house with a dog.

Dogs are unbelievable on many levels. They are unbelievably good companions for humans. Their beneficial effects on our mental and physical health are so numerous that they defy belief. They are unbelievably loyal and loving. And they are unbelievably silly.

That last item — the silliness of dogs — is part of their charm. But it also gets them into trouble. Dogs will eat the darnedest things, and many of these things can cause them serious harm. This article is dedicated to some of those things.


In fact, some common household items are so lethally dangerous — and so attractive to dogs — that I recommend that they never be present in homes with dogs.

If you own a dog, I recommend that your household be forever free of these six items:

1. Sugar-free gum and candy

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is purported to have actual health benefits in humans. For instance, it supposedly reduces cavities in people that use it in place of sugar. Dogs, however, reap no health benefits from xylitol whatsoever. In fact, xylitol can cause fatal hypoglycemia and liver failure in dogs. Dogs exposed to the stuff might require several days in the hospital for dextrose supplementation — and then might still suffer from fatal liver failure. I therefore recommend that dog owners keep their houses free of sugarless gums and candies containing xylitol.

Good for your teeth? Yes. Bad for your dog? Yes! Photo by Nomadic Lass.

2. Grapes and raisins

Although I’m a bit skeptical of xylitol’s human health benefits, I will concede that grapes and raisins are healthy and nutritious for us. Sadly, the same is not exactly true for canines. These fruits have been associated with lethal kidney failure in dogs. It is not clear whether the unidentified toxin is in the fruit itself, or whether it is produced by a mold that grows on the fruit, or something else altogether. What is clear is that some dogs will be in big trouble if they eat grapes or raisins. I recommend that your house be free of them, including the especially attractive (to dogs, and to me) raisin bread.

3. Pest-control products

Household pests certainly are nuisances. Gophers dig up the yard, snails and slugs destroy gardens, and mice and rats cause damage and contamination wherever they go. But the poisons designed to kill these pests also can kill dogs. Gopher bait liberates phosphide gas into dogs’ intestines, causing intestinal necrosis. A painful death can follow. Snail and slug bait causes tremors and seizures — again, a painful death can occur. Rat and mouse bait either contains products that prevent coagulation — leading to life-threatening hemorrhage — or a product that causes brain swelling and death due to neurological complications. An antidote exists for the hemorrhage-causing products, but they are being phased out in favor of the product that causes brain swelling and for which there is no antidote. All of these pesticides come in forms that are designed to be attractive to pests — and are therefore also attractive to dogs. Don’t keep them in your house or garage.

4. Antifreeze

Speaking of your garage, be aware that the antifreeze that might be stored there can be deadly toxic to dogs. It can cause fatal kidney failure. The main ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, tastes sweet and is attractive to dogs. All major antifreeze manufacturers have recently agreed to add bittering agents to their products to reduce canine and human exposures. However, older products might still be lurking and pose a significant risk. If you own a dog, don’t store antifreeze and don’t let your car’s radiator leak.

5. Sago palms

Sago palms are beautiful ornamental plants that also are phenomenally toxic when consumed by dogs. Dogs that consume them might suffer liver failure, leading to vomiting, jaundice, loss of appetite, diarrhea, uncontrollable hemorrhage, and death. No house with dogs should contain sago palms.

6. Chocolate

The final item that should never be present in dog-owning households is chocolate. Oh, who am I kidding? Dog-owning households will never be free of chocolate, and fortunately chocolate isn’t so dangerous that they need to be chocolate-free. Remember, however, that chocolate is almost as attractive to dogs as it is to people. It also is toxic to dogs, so keep it out of their reach.

In addition to this list, there are several other items that, although dangerous to dogs, aren’t such a huge risk that you need to rid your house of them.

Here’s five things to keep a sharp eye on:

1. Dishwashing detergent

Most people don’t realize that dishwasher detergent (and many other detergents and fabric softeners) is much more dangerous for dogs than regular soap. The individually wrapped packets seem to draw more canine attention than big boxes of powder, but it all has the potential to cause harm. Dishwasher detergent can cause serious damage to the mucus membranes of the mouth and intestines. Keep it locked up.

2. Foxtails

Although foxtails pose a risk wherever they grow, remember that many dogs are exposed in their own yards. I recommend that all dog owners regularly check their yards for these weeds. Remove all that are found.

3. Medication for humans

Myriad human medications are potentially dangerous to dogs. Both prescription and over-the-counter varieties pose a risk. Human medications always should be stored in an area that is inaccessible to dogs.

4. Garbage

If you have a big cookout, don’t forget that the garbage produced could pose a significant and nearly irresistible hazard to your dog. Rib bones, corn cobs, steak fat, and more can be found in cookout garbage and can wreak havoc on your canine friend.

5. Marijuana

I have to say it: if you have a dog, keep an eye on your stash. Although edible marijuana products are the most attractive to dogs, pets have been known to consume baggies of buds straight up. Marijuana toxicity usually isn’t fatal, but I am sorry to say that there have recently been reports of rare fatalities after consumption of medical-grade products.

Finally, remember that dogs are unsurpassed in their silliness. This means that they will consume just about anything you can imagine — and many things that you can not. This list — and any list of hazardous items for dogs — is therefore by necessity a partial one. As always, diligence can be your pal’s best friend.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372




Mourning the Loss of a Dog, My Logan


On April 22, 2013, Logan, my German Shepherd Dog, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  He had DM, Degenerative Myelopathy, a death sentence for a dog.  Some breeds are at risk for getting this, particularly GSD.  The dog must be euthanized for they will end up dying.  This is similar to MS in humans.

After I cried my heart out,  I went to Westside German Shepherd Rescue to adopt a GSD.

I bought Logan 8 years ago from a breeder in Germany.  My heart’s desire was to have a  GSD who was trained in Schutzhund, which is a dog field sport in Germany.  They take it very seriously:  there is a field where the dog works out, a judge and scorecard.  They are tested in tracking, obedience and protection.  Logan was Schutzhund Level 2.

Back to WGSR.  I took home a 2-yr-old GSD that I discovered had severe separation anxiety.  I left him home alone one day.  When I returned a lot of my crystal was smashed, kitchen blinds torn down, 2 lamps knocked over!!  He reacted violently to my leaving.  My vet also told me he had an autoimmune eye disease which would require regular vet visits and meds for his life!  I returned this dog to the rescue.  I simply could not afford the expenses involved.

I adopted another dog from WGSR who bit me, attacked my cat and 2 dogs I was boarding!!  My vet advised me to return her.  If she bites one of the dogs I’m boarding, it could open me up to liability.  Interestingly enough, I always name my dogs and cats very quickly, in minutes/hours.  I could not name this dog; nothing came to me.  Yes, I had to return this one too.

My friends had been telling me all along to get a puppy due to my business of boarding dogs in my home and my two cats.  So, I bought a puppy from a breeder.

I bought Logan 8 years ago because I wanted a particular kind of dog.  Now, I really wanted to save a dog from a shelter and give him a home.  There are way too many homeless dogs out there!!  Now I was not planning to shell out money to buy a dog.

The 8-week-old puppy I bought, however, had a bad heart.  My vet sent me to a cardiologist and she told me this dog was going to have major heart problems in his life and advised me to return him.   So, yep, returned him too.

Finally, I got 12-week-old GSD I named Bailey in exchange from the breeder.  He is doing just fine.  It took me 30 minutes to name him!   He does have diarrhea–my vet put him on special diet and meds–and he needs housebraking.  Ah, now there’s a challenge!!  Housebraking!  German Shepherd Dogs are very smart and I know he will catch on soon………..sooner, please!!

Now consider that in about four weeks, I brought 4 dogs to my vet.  Can you hear my money flying away?!

But it’s all worth it.  I have an adorable 14-week-old GSD puppy sleeping at my feet as I type this with his head on my foot.  I just love it!!

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372





Don’t Buy Puppies from Pet Stores; Puppy Mills Facts

Back in 2008, Best Friends launched our puppy mill initiatives after identifying puppy mills as one of the primary sources of animals entering our nation’s shelters.

A revealing Best Friends–led study, just published in the current issue of the “Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,” adds more weight to that analysis. Led by Dr. Frank McMillan, director of well-being studies at Best Friends, in collaboration with a highly regarded research team, the study compared the behavior profiles of pet store puppies with those acquired from hobbyist, noncommercial breeders. It is estimated that 99 percent of pet store puppies are sourced from high-volume commercial breeders, which is to say they come from puppy mills.

Dogs acquired as puppies from small, noncommercial breeders were selected for comparison for the following reasons:

1. They enter their new homes at approximately the same age as pet store pups do.
2. Their history prior to purchase is known.
3. They are, for the most part, purebred dogs.

In fact, the only difference then between the sampled groups was the nature of their breeding, whelping, weaning and prolonged, stressful transport. One is set in a commercial breeding environment with hundreds or even thousands of other dogs, while the other is set in a hobby breeder’s home environment with only a mother dog or a small group of household pets.

The difference in findings between the two groups was profound, but not surprising.

Problem behaviors exhibited by pet store dogs read like answers to a shelter surrender questionnaire, with the strongest effects observed in relation to aggressive behavior. For example, sexually intact pet store dogs were three times as likely to have owner-directed aggression as were sexually intact dogs acquired from small breeders. Pet store dogs were nearly twice as likely to have aggression toward unfamiliar dogs.

Additionally, pet store dogs were also 30 to 60 percent more likely to have stranger-directed aggression, aggression to other household dogs, as well as fear of dogs and nonsocial stimuli, separation anxiety, and touch sensitivity. Other undesirable behaviors included escaping from the home, sexual mounting of people and objects, and most forms of house soiling.

This Best Friends’ research effort is a follow-up to a 2011 study conducted by Dr. Frank and the same research team that compared adult puppy mill survivors to a sampling of dogs without any puppy mill history. The results of that study were equally dramatic, but likewise not at all surprising.

The adult breeding dogs from puppy mills showed significantly elevated levels of fears/phobias, compulsive/repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivity to being touched. “The most prominent difference was in the level of fear,” says Dr. Frank. “Compared to normal pet dogs, the chance of recovered puppy mill dogs scoring in the highest ranges for fear was six to eight times higher.”

The physical abuses associated with puppy mills are well documented. Puppy mills are just another version of factory farming, where the profit margin for the mostly rural mill operators is small. Production cost savings are paid for on the backs of the dogs held captive for breeding and their pet store–bound puppies.

For example, small cages mean that more animals can be crammed into limited space. Understaffed workers provide only subsistence level care for the dogs and pups. Low-cost, low-quality food results in dietary deficiencies and chronic disease. Puppies are force-weaned at an earlier-than-appropriate age so that they can arrive at the pet store at eight weeks of age. Veterinary care is nominal and is limited to the replacement cost of the animal. A puppy miller typically sells a pup to a middle man for as little as a couple of hundred dollars so the incentive to invest in medical care is essentially zero. Every corner that is cut represents a corresponding slice cut from the quality of life of the puppy mill dog.

This newly published research fills in the picture of the invisible psychological damage that puppy mills inflict on innocent, young dogs.

The entire pet trade industry — from breeder to pet store — is a disgrace and needs a major overhaul. Needless to say, there is often a considerable desire to “save” pet store puppies by buying them, but that sentiment is misguided because it merely makes room for another victim. The best way to fight puppy mills is to never buy from a pet store or an online retailer.

Many thanks to Dr. Frank and his research colleagues, James A. Serpell, PhD and Deborah L. Duffy, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, along with Elmabrok Masaoud, PhD and Ian R. Dohoo, DVM, PhD from the Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Your work has given us another compelling argument in our campaign against the shame of puppy mills.

Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372