Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life With Two Goldendoodles - From a Walk in the Park to Dog Skin Conditions and Beyond

I was never a dog person, I never really wanted a dog, but here I am the owner of two goldendoodles and writing a blog about them. How did it come to this?

Ruby and Bailey, two Goldendoodle dogs.

Several years ago my wife and kids kept trying to convince me that it would be fun to have a dog. It didn't sound fun. To me having a dog sounded like a reason to go to the vet more, deal with dog skin conditions, and fleas, and poop in the back yard. New chores do come with dog ownership, but I have found they have been worth it to experience the joy the dog brings.

I never really liked other people's dogs and I am allergic to many animals. Even before we started "looking" for our own dog I decided to spend some time around dogs so I got the chance to see what it was like. I didn't spend enough time with any dogs to bond with them, but I did find that there were some dogs that I would have an allergic reaction to and many I did not have problems with.

When the time came to start looking for a dog we decided to limit the search to breeds that were considered non-shedding or hypo-allergenic. We spent about five months browsing web pages, local shelters and petfinder.com looking for a hypo-allergenic dog to adopt. We went to see many dogs during this time but none of them worked out.

Bailey as a puppy
 Our search for a dog ended after about five months when we found a local dog groomer helping to place an older goldendoodle puppy (4-5 months old) for a down-state breeder. This puppy was the last of the litter and the breeder was having trouble selling her as she was no longer the perfect "puppy" age. So, enter Bailey, a female F1B goldendoodle.

Ruby as a puppy
It didn't take long for the whole family to fall in love with Bailey. She was great with the kids from day one and learned quickly. For our second dog we decided to get a dog similar in age and size to Bailey. We found a breeder with two litters of Goldendoodles near our home. They had about 12 puppies, about half of which were pre-sold. So enter Ruby, a female F2 goldendoodle

Bailey on a hotel room cot
We have had countless good times with our goldendoodles from vacations, to regular neighborhood walks, playing catch, going to the dog park and more. They have been an integral part of our family and continue to be. But, is it all a walk in the park? Of course not. Dogs are easier to raise than kids but they come with their own set of challenges.

Taking care of a dog's health involves a lot more than a once a year visit to the vet. For starters, we had to address dog skin problems and dog food sensitivities. Then there is grooming. Grooming for two large non-shedding dogs can be time consuming and expensive. To save on expenses we do most of the grooming ourselves. Then there are the little things, and luckily, our doodles don't resist when it's time to use their dog toothpaste or clean their ears. My wife even made some helpful dog care videos that you can find on youtube, like the video about cleaning your goldendoodle's ears below.

Overall, how is life with two goldendoodles?
I highly recommend it, even if you're not a "dog" person.


Please visit the Skyenimals Dog and Skyenimals Goldendoole pages for more dog pictures, facts and activities for kids. And remember, if you would like to share any of your dog or pet pictures with kids and animal lovers around the world you can upload them at Skyenimals.com.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Skyenimals Spotlight on Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, Illinois.

From bald eagles to wolves the 98 year old Phillips Park Zoo entertains over 200,000 visitors per year. At almost 100 years old, Phillips Park Zoo is quickly approaching it's centennial in 2015. Phillips Park Zoo is a small, no entrance fee, zoo in Aurora, Illinois that features primarily North American wildlife.

River Otter at Phillips Park Zoo
With more than 80 animals and over 40 different species this quaint zoo gives Aurora residents and visitors plenty to see. Three of the most popular animals with visitors are the North American river otters, mountain lions and the wolves. The reptile house is also a popular destination with zoo guests.

Alligator in the Reptile House at Phillips Park Zoo

Although there is a limited amount of land at Phillips Park Zoo, the animals are provided ample exhibit space. The zoo prefers to house fewer animals comfortably instead of trying to house more animals in smaller exhibits. The elk and wolves, for example, have very large exhibits. These exhibit sizes rival those you may see at many larger and nationally recognized zoos.

Barred Owl at Phillips Park Zoo
In addition to housing animals in good sized exhibits, the zoo is also home to many rescue animals. Some of the rescued animals at the zoo include owls, eagles and various birds of prey. Many of the rescues have permanent disabilities that prevent them from being released back into the wild.

Gray Wolf at Phillips Park Zoo, in Aurora, IL
Any zoo of 98 years undoubtedly has a lot of history and has experienced a large amount of change, and Phillips Park Zoo is no exception. In its early years, the zoo was home to exotic animals such as monkeys and giraffes. Phillips Park Zoo changed its focus to native animals after nearby Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934. In 1937, Mastodon bones and tusks were found during the digging of a lake on the property. These Mastodon fossils are now on display at the main visitors center of the zoo.
Mastodon statue at Phillips Park Zoo
Many people who grew up in Aurora or the western suburbs of Chicago remember Phillips Park Zoo as a place to see American black bears. Unfortunately, the zoo hasn't had any black bears since their last bear died of cancer over a decade ago.  However, this may change someday. The zoo has considered expansion with the hopes of bringing back black bears to the zoo. Of course, a change like this is complicated and would require additional fund raising or a substantial donation.

The zoo continues to add new animals through rescue and breeding programs it participates in. Recent additions include two barn owls (July 2013). The zoo is also looking into adding two wolf cubs to the current wolf pack. Be sure to "like" the Phillips Park Zoo facebook page for news and updates. You can also "like" the Skyenimals facebook page for pictures from Phillips Park Zoo and many other places.

Phillips Park Zoo is open year round, and hosts several special events throughout the year. Check the Phillips Park Aurora web site for zoo hours and event information before visiting. And, of course, watch for additional centennial celebration information leading up to the 2015 season!

Want even more information and pictures from Phillips Park Zoo? Then check out the Skyenimals' Phillips Park Zoo page. If you visit the zoo and get any good pictures please share them here or on skyenimals.com!