The pleasures of having a dog.


My dad never let us have a pet. He always said animals are a big responsibility. If we were to have a pet we would need time, money and dedication. All we had was love. When I was 13 a stray dog came into my house looking for shelter.  That stray dog all dirty with matted hair had five puppies on one hot summer day in the corner of the garden. My mom supplied a blanket and some towels for the babies. My dad had told us not to fall in love with them because as soon as they could live by themselves they will have to go. We saw them grow and tried to detain time so they wouldn’t grow fast and have to leave. My father made arrangements with the neighbors to see who will keep them. People come in and out trying to choose the cutest puppy. He found five volunteers to adopt them, four puppies and the mother. But one stayed alone. After months of trying and because I never stopped begging, he let me have her, a small light brown puppy full of fleas and dirty. I felt like I had never been that happy. I named her Duquesa, (Duchess). She grew to be a cute puppy. She was long like a wiener dog, with short legs and very chubby. We played together and ate together, and as I went through puberty she comfort me a lot. There wasn’t a better time to have a pet. I never knew how much you could love a dog. She was so innocent and loyal.



The only picture I have of Duquesa.

It didn’t last long. Five years later a car ran her over. She did not die instantly. She looked okay, but after a couple of days she started having seizures. She was suffering. My dad took her to the vet, he put her on the truck of her truck to rush her to the doctor but she didn’t make it. She died on a cold night in 1995. I cried for days and I had a lot of remorse. What if I had take her to the vet sooner? What if I had kept her leashed and that car would never have run her over? I could not change anything. She was gone. My first dog and was gone too soon.

Later on, I got married and had kids. My son always wanted a pet but I felt the same way as my dad; I needed time and space for a dog. My son had two hamsters and a fish. My daughter was born and she loves animals. She begged and begged for a dog, but I couldn’t say yes, she had a bunny instead. One of my cousins got an English cocker spaniel. We went visiting and fell in love with him.


English Cocker Spaniel.


My cousin told me that she could get me one since the lady who gave it to her had another one. We were so excited since my husband agreed to have it. Ended being that she could not give us the dog. The lady backed out, but, well, we had tried. A couple of weeks later, we went to the humane society of Elkhart County. We walked into the cages and guess what we found…

dexter add

Canelo Picture from the humane society add.


I found a beautiful American cocker spaniel, vey quiet and nervous. I ask the ladies if he was available. They say it was but before we make arrangements every one in the family should visit to make sure he will adapt to us. We all visited that day. His name was Canelo (Cinnamon). We took him home two days later. We changed his name to Dexter. He is a very insecure dog, very nervous but loves to play and sleep. It has changed our lives. My husband loves him, runs with him every afternoon. My daughter plays with him and tries to coach him but he does not like small people to give him orders. Still, they have a lot of fun together. My son’s mood has change a lot since we got him. They love each other, they look for each other and always they naps together. For me, Canelo has also being a mood lifter. He is silly and stubborn and is always by my side. He likes company, and so do we.


Pictures of Dexter since we found him. Top right: his first day at home. Left: a couple of months later.

This dog has enriched our lives, He has made us happier and healthier. Besides providing us with companionship and entertainment. He has developed my kids with patience and responsibility.

Several scientific studies have showed positive health effects for people of all ages with regard to emotional and physical well-being. These studies were based on human-animal interactions specially on improvement of social attention, behavior, mood, reduction of stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure, fear and anxiety, and cardiovascular health, system functioning, improved pain management, reduced aggression, enhanced empathy and, improved learning, self-reported anxiety and depression,

Dogs help you boosts our moods. Playing with them makes us feel happier. Hormones like the dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that are associated with pleasure and tranquility, are released when you have a dog.

But be very careful before adopting. Caring for a dog takes a lot of responsibility, patience and commitment. First you have to ask for advice in what kind of dog is good for you or your family. Having a cute dog in not enough. Before adopting you need to make sure the breed you are trying to get fits your family needs. If you are trying to get an older dog with a family of kids it won’t have the patience or energy to play around. If you are older and decided that you want a puppy you wouldn’t have the energy that it requires. Remember the pets from the shelter will need patience and time to adapt. You wouldn’t know what training is required until you get it home. Planning is a great start. Go visit the shelter, play a little with the dogs that may interest you. Ask an expert for advice and look for a quick guide to help you choose.



Dexter sleeping on the couch.

If you want a puppy adopt from shelters. They have thousands of animals in need of love and patience. My father never knew what a great gift Duquesa was and how after 22 years I miss her dearly and appreciate her companionship. Same for Dexter, It has been a pleasure having him home. He keeps us active, since he needs time to run and loves to play outdoors, also had helped us through stressful times and makes us feel calm. We have learned to be less focused on ourselves and to be more tolerant people. But not only for us, I bet we have changed his life too.

For more information about how to adopt a pet visit:



Make your garden native again…


I love gardening and be outdoors. One of my favorite things to do is seat by the bushes and watch wildlife pass by. Birds, butterflies, insects and of course flowers are my passion. I was so excited for the weather to heat up because it means it is garden season again! This year I decided to do a little more planning than usual because the selection of plants that I have are not native at all. I decided to help the environment and the wildlife and plant more native plants. According to the area that I live in my gardening zone is 5a, which means low temperatures go from -15 to -10 F. Gardening zones are used to indicate where various permanent landscape and plants can grow.



If you want to change your landscape to a native one, you have to choose plants, shrubs, or perennials to make sure they survive and grow year after year and tolerate year round conditions in your area, such as the lowest and highest temperatures and the amount and distribution of rainfall. Anyone can have a native landscape that works in harmony within your own environment, it provides a safe space for wildlife and is attractive even in the most urban setting.

Going native can get done in small steps, since my garden is already planted I need to change it step by step. I am going to start small, replacing an exotic specie with a native one. Making a small area in my yard into a native plant garden and by replacing a section of turf with a bed of native plants.



Any piece of your property that you change to native can help offset the habitat losses from development and will stop the spread of invasive plants. It will also save you money and time because is easier to take care, uses less water, doesn’t need fertilizers or herbicides.

You need to do some research about native plants and wildlife. Planning is the most important step. Find an attractive design that works well for you and keep in mind the well-being of the wildlife.



Step one: Make a plan. If you need some advice of what kind of garden is ideal for you according to your area and space available, there are many resources on the internet that can help you decide, also you can find a specific set of native plants that fits your interest.

It is very important to do an inventory of the plants that you already have.  Are they native or exotic?  Should you keep them or replace them? The Aubudon Society has a simple guide to help determine if your plants are native or not.



Step two: Design a native plant landscape. All wildlife has basic requirements: Food, water, and cover.  If you want to attract a diversity of birds or butterflies to your property, you’ll need to understand their basic needs and your needs as a landowner. Meeting wildlife needs can require specific plant diversity, careful arrangement of plant types, and the addition of feeders, nest boxes, and water features.

Once you’ve made your plan and selected the native plants you want to use, you’ll need to find and buy plants and make sure they’re planted correctly.


Step three: Maintain your native landscape: The good news after your plants are in place and established, they require less maintenance than their non-native counterparts. They don’t need fertilizers and they will use less irrigation.

As gardener we have a unique opportunity to address the biodiversity crisis, not only in animals but in plants too. Adding even a few native plants to your landscape can create gardens that honor your State’s rich natural heritage.