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Stasha Speaks!

My road trip to Lake Coeur d’Alene

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Stasha awaits her family road trip

It was a fun summer for me and Rocco. Just before Labor Day we had an adventure vacation visiting friends on Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

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View of Lake Coeur d’Alene from the boat

To give you some background, Lake Coeur d’Alene is a dam-controlled lake in northern Idaho, in the northwest United States. Its northern end is in the city of Coeur d’Alene. It spans 25 miles in length and ranges from one to three miles wide with more than 109 miles of shoreline, according to Wikipedia 


It all sounded like great fun. Rocco and I love road trips, and Idaho was going to be our longest ride to date, so I did have a talk with him about not hogging the back seat. 

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Stasha and Rocco in their dog bed as they travel

When traveling with fur babies, there can be some unanticipated bumps in the road as we discovered. Rocco and I packed food, toys and our favorite blankets. Anticipating the colder Idaho weather, we took sweaters and rain gear, as well as our life vests so we’d be safe and ready for fun on the lake. Needless to say, we don’t travel light.

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Stasha and Rocco don their life vests on their first day on the boat

Anticipating not every city is as dog friendly as Newport, before our trip, our doggie mama visited AAA in Newport to map our route and hotels along the way to avoid problems. Our AAA adviser suggested reaching Idaho with two overnight stops. The first being Salt Lake City, Utah and the Hilton Hotel. Though the Hilton represented itself as “dog friendly” according to AAA, we found that really wasn’t the case. 

Upon check-in, mom asked where the doggie potty area was located. When she found out it was two to three blocks away in a park area, she said that was unacceptable – especially if we had to do our business late at night which sometimes is the case. She canceled our stay there immediately, walked out and wasn’t happy about it. 

Back in the car she checked on our favorite site,, and found a great Best Western down the road a bit that was perfectly suited for our needs. BringFido is a great resource for hotels, restaurants and other doggie amenities across the country, because actual dog owners share personal experiences on the site with each place. It’s also important to note, that because we were traveling with two dogs, we had to look for places which had a policy, as it’s usually just one dog. And they had to accept big dogs – because Rocco is 40 pounds, and generally the weight limit is 30 pounds. To avoid another fiasco, we called our next hotel stop, the Comfort Inn Butte Montana. They assured us all was good, as there was a grassy potty area for us at their place. What they didn’t say was that the joint was under major construction! So, when we arrived the very next day the place was a mess, and again, we were out of there in a flash. With only five hours left to Coeur d’Alene, our parents decided to drive straight to our destination.

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Stasha and Rocco enjoying their car ride

At first, Rocco and I thought this sounded like a bad idea. But with a few stops in between to stretch, it actually was fine. Besides, we were looking forward to seeing our Auntie Vicki and Uncle Preston’s home.

Once we arrived, it was party time! Though our aunt and uncle don’t have dogs, they were excited to see us and rolled out the red carpet for Rocco and me. They took us boating several days on the lake.

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It’s all smiles during our boat ride

And we toured the town.

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Posing with my Auntie Vicki

But all fun vacations come to an end and I’m happy to report our drive home was smooth sailing as we passed through beautiful countryside.

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Sightseeing in Idaho Falls

And we got to stop at sights like Idaho Falls.

Now that vacation is behind us, apparently the “unfriendly dog hotel saga” we experienced on our trip isn’t. Had we booked our rooms directly, I guess there wouldn’t be a problem getting refunds on the hotels we didn’t stay at – and both the Hilton and Comfort Inn front desk clerks told us that. But the hotels weren’t booked directly – not even by AAA. Turns out AAA actually booked them through contract partners at a company called TravelBound, and that’s turning out to be a problem. TravelBound is claiming we never showed up at the Hilton Salt Lake, which our rep at AAA is arguing isn’t true – and she’s also arguing the Comfort Inn should have given full disclosure about the renovation mess. Needless to say the whole thing is a hassle and a cautionary tale when booking travel with pets.

It’s probably better to do your own bookings and make sure you ask plenty of questions. 

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Checking out Idaho Falls

I’ll be back in Stu News this winter with my annual Christmas gift guide.

You can email me at, and check out my past columns at


Bark at ya later, 

Woof Woof 


Stasha Speaks!  April 2018

Spring flowers – lovely to look at…but not ingest


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April showers bring May flowers is how the saying goes. And though Springtime flowers are beautiful, if ingested by us critters they can be deadly. 

Rocco and Stasha

Click on photo for a larger image

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(L-R): My brother Rocco and I – ready for Springtime showers

Rocco and I love the Spring rain. My buddy and I put on our raincoats splashing around the yard as things begin to bloom. But our mom keeps a watchful eye on us – especially Rocco, because that dog puts anything and everything in his mouth! He’s a curious dog willing to eat most anything, which could get him in big tummy trouble.

If he were to dig up plant bulbs and munch on them, it could be deadly. Plants with bulbs like tulips, daffodils, narcissus, and hyacinths, can be particularly dangerous to dogs, especially the skin at the bottom of the bulb. Dogs eating these flowers or bulbs can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or worse.

“More severe symptoms as a result of larger ingestions can include increased heart and respiratory rate, foreign body obstructions, and, in rare cases, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats),” according to

If you’re not familiar with Pet MD, you should be. It’s a good website to keep up to date on the latest recalls of pet products, as well as overall information on animal health issues to stay abreast of.

But getting back to dangerous plant-eating for dogs, it’s what’s in bulbs that can be deadly for us furry pals.

Tulips and hyacinth, for example, contain lactone, which when chewed or swallowed, can cause tissue irritation to our mouths and esophagus.


Daffodils contain lycorine, an alkaloid with something that triggers vomiting.


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Lilies are especially tricky because there are several different types – Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies which contain oxalate crystals can cause tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx and esophagus – resulting in minor drooling. Potentially fatal lilies are Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show varieties – all of which are highly toxic to cats too! Even small ingestion (such as two – three petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure.


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There are two crocus plants: one that blooms in the Spring (Crocus species) and the other in Autumn. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.


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Other plants equally as dangerous to dogs are azalea/rhododendron, foxglove and oleander.

For a complete list of symptoms, plants and fertilizers pet owners should be aware of for the safety of their animals, Nationwide Pet insurance’s page on Summertime Toxins is a good reference. Visit a good phone number to keep handy is the Pet Poison Helpline’s emergency hotline (1.855.289.0358) available 24 hours a day.

If you suspect your animal has eaten something in the yard that could be dangerous, the first rule of thumb is to get them to a vet at once.

Stay safe this Spring and enjoy the flowers – just don’t eat them. 

Bark at ya later,

Woof Woof


You can email me at, and check out my past columns at

Stasha Speaks 2018 

Stasha Speaks! (and this one is eye-opening)


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Stasha strikes a perfect pose

High blood pressure, are you kidding?

That’s what I was thinking last month when the vet announced to my doggie mama that my blood pressure was 275 and dangerously high. Apparently, the normal blood pressure range for dogs is 100 - 150!

Surprisingly, high blood pressure in dogs and cats is more common than you think.

The bad news is that it’s rarely diagnosed in time to save the animal’s eye sight. Routine annual vet check-ups don’t include blood pressure testing.

I was lucky to be diagnosed early, because I visit Eye Care for Animals Veterinary specialists in Tustin once a year. That’s because when I was two years old – I’m six now – Mom started noticing a blueish colored dot on my left eye. Because of my age at the time, our regular vet suggested we just watch the spot over time to see if anything changed.

Within weeks it got larger and that’s when we were referred to a specialist at Eye Care for Animals:

I was diagnosed with a fast growing cataract, and if surgery wasn’t performed quickly, I’d lose sight in the eye. Cataracts are not uncommon in older dogs, but in younger dogs it’s rare, but can be a result of a scratch or eye injury – which I hadn’t had. In even rarer cases, it could be due to genetics – and that apparently were the cards I was dealt.

During surgery, it was discovered I also had lens damage, and had a lens replacement. Though it sounds scary, the surgery and recovery were pretty non-eventful for me. I do have prescription eye drops administered once a day for the rest of my life to keep that lens eye healthy. And that’s a small price to pay to save my eyesight, so I don’t mind it.

We visit the eye doctor once a year measuring pressure behind my eyes, and he does a bunch of other tests to ensure my eyes are healthy. On my January visit, the doctor noticed tiny blood vessels behind my eyes had started to break – an indication of high blood pressure which leads to blindness, or worse…stroke.

Thankfully we caught my high blood pressure in time the doctor said. As you can imagine, my Mom asked a lot of questions as to why I developed this condition. I’m a chill dog, not some crazy nervous wreck.

My diet is well controlled, and I never get to eat people food, no matter how much I beg. As it turns out, high blood pressure is commonly a secondary symptom as a result of heart disease, kidney disease or abdominal tumors. Food doesn’t play into this equation in animals. After a battery of tests showing I had none of these, it was determined again, I’m one of the rare cases of being hereditarily predisposed to this condition.

Now, in addition to my daily eye drops twice a day, I take a blood pressure pill. 

Thankfully, my blood pressure has dropped within normal range.

My situation should serve as a cautionary tale to all dog and cat owners to request a blood pressure check at every vet appointment to get a baseline reading. 

At my brother Rocco’s last appointment, Mom requested a blood pressure check on him, too. As crazy as that dog is, his blood pressure was normal, so go figure.


Rocco, Stasha’s brother sells blood pressure machines specifically made for cats and dogs. We bought one for $49.99, that’s easy to use.


CONTECR automatic blood pressure monitor tonometer

Here’s a helpful link to the CONTEC automatic blood pressure monitor tonometer:

Be sure your dog or cat owner orders the correct cuff size, and it’s a good idea to take it to your vet to properly learn how to use it. Though our vet says it’s not as accurate as his office machine, it’s close enough and is a good way to check for blood pressure spikes in between office visits.

Needless to say, my experience here has been eye opening.

To learn more about eye conditions that can cause blindness to cats and dogs, visit

Bark at ya in a few months again,

Woof  Woof


You can email me at, and check out my past columns at