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What’s the Deal with Emotional Support Animal Certification?


Editors Note: we at Good Dog! Magazine have noted the trend of “emotional support animals” showing up in apartment buildings, on airplanes, and in formerly dog-free offices. Since this is a topic of interest to many of our readers, we reached out to the experts to get more information.

By Lara Rhodes

ESA Certification Process 

For those people who suffer from an emotional or mental disability, there’s good news for a treatment that doesn’t involve any drugs– the emotional support animal (ESA).

An ESA can be any species or type of animal as long as they are able to provide comfort, companionship and even a boost of confidence for those that need it. However, having an emotional support animal may not be as simple as having a family pet and calling it an ESA.

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is a formal document written by a mental health professional (i.e. a licensed therapist, licensed social worker, or psychologist) stating that your pet has been prescribed to assist you in living a normal and healthier life.

The letter must be written on the mental health professional’s own letterhead and will include his/her name, license number, date of issue and place it was issued, along with his/her signature. ESA letters may be renewed once a year.

In order to obtain an ESA letter, you must have a mental or emotional issue that falls under the documented illnesses laid out by the DSM-IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5), which your mental health professional will either know of or have access to.

Who Will Accept My ESA Letter?

Although an emotional support animal is not a service animal as protected under the ADA, you do have rights under Federal law. Emotional Support Animals are protected under two different laws. The properly documented ESA letter will be accepted by both airlines and “no pets” policy housing.

When flying with your ESA, you are asked to make your reservations at least 48 hours in advance. You should let the airlines know you will be flying with an emotional support animal. You will be expected to present your ESA letter in order for your dog/cat/bird etc. to be allowed into the cabin of the aircraft at no extra charge to you.

When it comes to “no pets” policy housing, your ESA letter should be presented to the building manager/owner. Once accepted, you should have the same rights to the building and property as any other tenant would. The landlord/owner of the building also cannot charge you any extra fees for having an ESA. However, if your animal should do damage to the property, you can be held liable and even evicted if the issue(s) are serious enough.

What Can I Do If My ESA Letter is Not Accepted?

Since there are a number of people trying to use family pets to get special privileges, airlines and building owners are becoming more hostile of the ESA letters. If you have a documented and legitimate need for an ESA and you are being denied access by “no pets” policy buildings or airlines you have options.

The Fair Housing Act (HUD) protects people with emotional support animals, so they would be your first line of defense. Inform your landlord that you take your rights seriously. If they continue to deny your rights, let them know you will be contacting HUD directly.

Your second option would be to contact a lawyer and have that person write a letter on your behalf to the building owner/landlord.

Lastly, there are ESA advocates that may also be able to step in and point you in the right direction.

However, be aware that not all landlords have to accept an ESA. These circumstances include buildings with four or less single dwellings where the landlord occupies one dwelling and the house has been rented or sold without a real estate broker (private sale).

If your ESA letter is not accepted by an airline, there should be a contact number that each airline will provide (in person or on their website) for further assistance. Some airline employees may not be aware of emotional support animal rights so asking to speak with another person may be required.

How Do I Get an ESA Letter?

Emotional support animals are not technically pets and therefore you can exercise your rights to having one when it comes to both housing and airlines. Seek support from your personal therapist or a legitimate online ESA letter referral service. Start living your life to the fullest. Refrain from turning to low priced online services that may be ESA letter mills or fraudulently utilizing therapist’s signatures. Airlines and landlords may call your therapist so make sure you have contact with your therapist directly.

Lara Rhodes represents ESAdoctors.com—for assistance with ESA certification check them out here.

Beautiful Elevated Pet Feeders from OFTO – Good Dog! Gold Standard


5/5 Stars – Good Dog! Gold Standard
Ozarks Fehr Trade Originals

Neither the writer nor Good Dog! Magazine received compensation for this review.

By Christine Boswell

If you are wondering why raised bowls matter for pets, especially taller ones, the answer lies in their tummies. If a dog has to bend their head lower than their stomach they may develop digestive issues including gas, bloating, and in some awful cases twisting of the gut. None of these are fun, and the gut twisting will result in an expensive and painful surgery for your pooch if it doesn’t kill them first. I’m sure there are many more benefits to the raised food bowl, but those are the big three for us, and we figured they would be on the top of your list too.

Our Decision Process

We had already had a not too thrilling experience trying to find a raised bowl for Helen with very little positive outcome, and had pretty given up hope that anything decent was available in the sizes we would need. However, Ozarks Fehr Trade Originals managed to catch our eye. Their products are not only gorgeous, they also fit together in compact fashion appropriate for our compact lifestyle (we are working on fitting everything into a camper so that we can travel whenever we want) and they are made from recycled or ecofriendly materials, which is a huge plus for us. I was super excited to find out that their bowls would not make Charlotte (our resident reason why we can’t have nice things) sick if she chews on them some, as they are triple-coated in a varnish that is non-toxic, non-allergenic, asthma-friendly, has zero VOCs, is odorless, and organic.

Picking the Right Size Bowl for Your Dog

First off, the right raised bowl height really makes a difference. If the bowl is too high, your pooch can’t get to all their noms or has to stand on tippy toe like a ballet dancer, and who wants to eat their food like that? If too low, you’ll run into the same issues as not having the raised bowl in the first place. That is why we highly recommend that you measure the length of your dog’s legs three times to make sure you get the right number for the sizing chart. Sadly, our Manly Stan Lee is just too gigantic for OFTO’s largest bowl. Never fear though– they are working on making a jumbo-sized bowl for all of us jumbo sized dog owners soon!

See here for measuring instructions:

Opening Our Box

Due to our unique situation with the gigantic Stan Lee, we spent some time getting to know the lovely people at OFTO, and were really surprised when we received not one… but three bowls in our box! The 7” tall bowl was the one we were expecting for Helen, and it was exactly perfect for our senior pup. She was able to find and use the bowl without any spills, trips over said bowl, or having to stretch up on tip toe.

We also received a teacup sized bowl which is 3 inches tall for our itty-bitty kitty cat, Ylva (she has perpetual kitten syndrome). Of the animals, she loved her bowl the most! She has transitioned completely and always gobbles all of her food up and nuzzles the bowls as if saying, “Thank you for the nomz.”

The tallest bowl is 12 inches tall and was supposed to be tried out by Charlotte. However, she and Stan Lee are afraid of the bowl, and are working on coming around to the newness of it.  She did sniff it today, and Stan Lee didn’t skitter out of the room when he noticed it (did I mention that all of our pups are rescues? These two were gotten young, but still have a few scars from being rehomed/saved). I feel that once she and Stan Lee get over their aversion to the newness, they will love the bowls as much as we do.

We also selected the “In Case of Emergency” kits to test out. I have previous experience with fire-fighting and wanted to see if these were better than the other “we have pets inside” stickers out there. Not only were they more durable, but they are one of the only reflective I.C.E. pet kits out there. The ID badges are great, and have places to put your pets name, an emergency contact, your name, and your veterinarian’s name. It also comes with extras for those of us who tend to think faster than they write and mess up hand written stuff, and a way to laminate the card and protect it. There are also two key rings to put on your keys so that EMS personnel can know to check your wallet for your I.C.E. card. The only change I would make would be to the sticker. I wish there was a way to mark green, yellow, and red for friendly, shy, and aggressive. I know I would like to know what I’m walking into if I needed to go get someone’s pet out of their house for them. Aside from that, I love them!

Our Thoughts on the Raised Bowls

Each bowl is not only unique, but exceptionally beautiful, built like the brick house the third piggy put up, and if you have several different sized dogs they are even stackable. They do not smell “varnishy”, but like freshly cut wood or like a good new book. The teacup sized bowl was perfect for our Ylva. She was very welcoming to the thought of her food not being as close to the ground. I loved that it ended up fitting in her cat tree so that she could climb and then eat out of her raised bowl. She too loved not having to eat with the dogs in her face trying to steal her nomz, the challenge of the raised bowl in the raised tree, and the wood itself. I have, on several occasions, seen her rubbing up against her raised bowls. Helen too liked her bowl. She is almost blind, and I think the raised bowl and shiny cup really help her find her water and food. She does not struggle so much, and for that I will forever be grateful that we could find her something to help her final years be more comfortable. All in all, we absolutely adore our bowls, our I.C.E. Kits, and the knowledge that our loves are safer when they eat now.

Quae est per servum suum dominus eius melius amari quam canem? This Latin proverb means, “by what servant is his master better loved than by his dog”, and we as humans have a unique and beautiful bond with our doggos that has lasted thousands of years. From the first man who bonded with a canine, to the Romans and on to the bond we have today– humans and dogs are like PB&J. We just fit, and it is that love that prompted us to consider raised food bowls for our tall dogs, Stan Lee and Charlotte. There are tons of health benefits to the bowls and we made a promise to each of our dogs on the day that we got them that we would always provide what was best for them. By what servant is his master better loved than by his dog? This family, and we serve them right back.

Boo Boo’s Best Rabbit and Kangaroo Dog Food Toppers


Neither the writer nor Good Dog! Magazine received compensation for this review.

By Christine Boswell

Do you love exotic new foods? Does your dog or cat as well? Have you ever tried rabbit or kangaroo or wanted to try it out on your doggos or puppers? Then, you really need to check out Boo Boo’s Best. It’s owned by Jocelyn Rosenthal, and is based out of San Francisco, California. My husband and I have not had kangaroo, but we had a rabbit kimchi sandwich from the famous Luke’s Inside Out food truck in Austin, Texas and let me tell you that was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life. I figured that if all rabbit tastes that glorious, our dogs would love these treats / meal toppers.

Stats and Initial Thoughts

Here’s what you need to know about this K-9 kibble. There are seven training treat flavors: Kangaboo, Remarkable Rabbit, Perfect Pork & Wild Boar, Glorious Goat, Groovy Gator, Awesome Anchovies, and Mighty Mussels. We were given two packages each of the Kangaboo and Remarkable Rabbit recipes to test out on our puppers. The Kangaboo is made with Wild Australian Kangaroo, fruit, veggies, and coconut oil. Then, like a great jerky it is slowly dehydrated to perfection.  It smells like a glorious meaty treat and I was left wondering… if a bell had rung, would I have drooled? The rabbit is made with domestic French rabbit, fruits, veggies, and coconut oil. It too is slowly dehydrated into jerky chews for your pets. The bags were well made and durable. They tore open fairly well, and I was not left with a messed-up seal; a major plus for me. Of the two, the rabbit smelled much more glorious whilst the kangaroo was more meaty and manly. Our boarding facility’s kennel master told us that kangaroo is super popular in Australia and is like the beef of the continent. I’m not so sure about that, but our dogs’ ears popped up super straight when I tore open the bag and swished it around in the air for them to waft and bask in the glory of the meat smells. 

Love at First Bite

So there we were… standing in the kitchen. We were preparing the feast for our mighty beasts whilst they played tug-of-war outside with their gigantic rope toy. Each plate was filled with a small handful of their normal food, ¼ cup of the Kangaboo, and three pieces of the Remarkable Rabbit. We then separated the animals and gave them each a plate.  The cat dug in right away, and Charlotte did too. Helen took some coaxing (only because she’s old and blind), but Stan Lee about lost his mind trying to get the noms. If you see in the video below I told him to scoot back, and he did. That’s how much he wanted the plate of treats. All of the animals ate all of their samples plus they finished off the bag throughout the week. There were no upset tummies and everyone seemed to really enjoy the treats. Unfortunately, their breath was less stellar after eating said noms. Meaty goodness does that to you though so that can’t be helped. 

The Wrap Up

We love this delectable, delicious, and daring treat. It smells good, the dogs enjoyed eating it, and we were even able to teach the cat to fetch with it as a training treat.  I loved the packaging, loved how well behaved my dogs are when they want some kangaroo or rabbit, and how healthy this food is for my darlings.

How to Fight Back Against Puppy Farming


By Amanda Bathory

Puppy farming is the commercialized mass-breeding of dogs, and unfortunately, a growing number of pet dogs start their lives in the cruel and squalid conditions common to the industry.

The criminals behind each farm have two things in common: they’re firmly focused on profits, and avoid welfare. Worse still, their pockets are lined with your cash – of the 8.5 million pet dogs in the UK, one in five are bred in puppy farms[1]— and dog lovers are often left to tend a poor animal that’s been separated too early from its mother, exposed to physiological torture, as well as a cocktail of genetic and environmental health issues.

Kennel Club research found that one in five owners that bought puppies through classified ads spent between £500 and £1,000 on vet’s bills in the first six months of the puppy’s life, leaving new owners with broken hearts and escalating vets bills.

In light of all this, it’s worrying that 1.2 million people in the UK think puppy farms are a good way of getting a responsibly bred dog.[1] 

Even if you know the risks and think: “this would never happen to me”, remember that irresponsible farmers are fronting well-oiled machines, raking in profits that can run into the millions. So tried and tested are their methods, they’re difficult to catch – it’s easier than ever to get online, post a classified ad and hide behind a digital veil, duping unsuspecting, innocent shoppers.

In April 2017, GoCompare stood side-by-side with the RSPCA to put cruel puppy farming and puppy shopping habits under the spotlight. So help us fight the good fight – here’s how you can shop for a new puppy, or older waggy-tailed companion, safely.

Shopping for a puppy? Read between the lines.

A farmer may post a classified puppy ad that looks like this:

READY NOW! Rare pomski cross litter, five weeks old. Vaccinated, wormed, £1,000. Free insurance for four weeks.

On the surface, it appears above board (and you could have a healthy, safe puppy tomorrow, great!) but all is not as it seems:

  • Puppies can’t leave their mother before they’re eight weeks old
  • The puppy in the photo may not be the one you’re buying
  • Rare, designer cross-breeds are a treat for farmers because they fetch higher prices
  • You may find the price is cheaper and more appealing than that charged by a registered Kennel Club breeder
  • Puppies can’t be vaccinated or wormed before eight weeks old
  • You need to meet the mother of puppy before collection, no excuses
  • An appointment to discuss your situation with the breeder suggests that they care about who you are and the home you can offer to the puppy, so accept an invitation with open arms
  • They may tout free pet insurance for the first few weeks after purchase, but this shouldn’t give you confidence in the puppy’s upbringing thus far if you can’t meet the mother or see its living conditions

Is it worth the risk? If you buy the puppy anyway, bear in mind the farmer will need to replace that puppy to fulfil demand. They have more opportunity to hurt someone else looking for a pet, who isn’t as clued-up as you are.

Shopping for an older dog? See-through the tall tail.

It’s not just farmed puppies on the market. Mother dogs that have exhausted their use are put up for sale, too.

A classified advert selling an overbred mother may read like this:

£300. Seven-year-old bichon frise. Selling due to personal reasons. Had five litters, but could have more. Call for more info.

Be wary of:

  • A designer breed at a knock-down price
  • A high number of litters
  • No mention of current health, vaccinations or microchipping
  • A vague, detached reason for sale which could suggest it’s not a loved, family pet

Push for what you know is right

If a breeder tries to evade doing the right thing by the puppy, it’s probably a bad buy. Watch out for these calling cards:

  • They let the puppy leave the mother before they’re eight weeks old
  • They leave the medical checks, vaccinations, microchipping up to you, or boast they’ve already had the necessary care earlier than legally allowed
  • They actively prevent you from meeting the mother. They may say she’s out for a walk, or at the vets, when you come for a visit
  • Try to meet you at a different location to where the mother lives

To make a safe, informed decision about where to buy a dog, and start a healthy friendship that will last a life time, read GoCompare’s guide to puppy farming.

Amanda Bathory is insurance editor at GoCompare

[1] Between the 8th and 13th March 2017 One Poll conducted an online survey among 2000 randomly selected UK adults. UK adult population (18+) estimated to be 48,595,258 (source: ONS Annual mid-year population estimates for the UK 2015). 50% of survey participants stated that they had bought or were thinking of buying a puppy.  5% of those participants believe puppy farms are a good way of getting an animal that’s responsibly bred and raised. 5% of 24,297,629 = 1,214,881.45

DinkyDogClub Product Review Round-Up – Good Dog! Gold Standard


5/5 Stars – Good Dog! Gold Standard

Neither the writer nor Good Dog! Magazine received compensation for this review.

By Christine Boswell

Oh my goodness gracious! We here at casa de la Sexton just got the most adorable tiny box from the DinkyDogClub, and we are in love. The DinkyDogClub has items for itty-bitty pupperz, but big dogs can find goodies there too so don’t fret. The DinkyDogClub has been around the dog park since 2014 when, after adopting their dog Dunkin, the founders of this cute club had trouble finding him pup play mates. Fast forward a few years, and their membership is at a whopping 400 Dinky Doggies and their online boutique serves their members and the teensy weensy doggie community at large. I don’t know about you, but the thought of so many small “floofy” dogs makes me smile and squeal from sheer cuteness overload.

The Unboxing

The Testers

Stan Lee is an almost two-year-old, 175 lb., King Shepherd. He is shy and very protective of his pack. He does not like meeting new people when we are around. His girlfriend is Charlotte, and she is one-year-old, 50ish lbs., and the most hyper and ADHD Aussie Shepherd mix you will ever have the joy of meeting. She, unlike Stan Lee, loves to meet anyone and everyone. However, not everyone likes her when she’s hyped up because she likes to jump (we are trying to get her to stop). Our senior pup, Helen, is fifteen years old, 50 lbs., and is a Corgi mix. She is one of those who does not like Charlotte when she is hyper, but when she thinks you are not looking, she will give the puppy sweet forehead kisses. It’s super adorable. Then, the odd man out is the cat. Ylva (EEL-VA) is six pounds. She thinks she is a dog and even tested the treats, but she was not a fan since they weren’t beef or chicken flavored. She’s a diva and is super picky.

The Selection

Needless to say, our dogs are not tiny, but Charlotte thinks she is and loves playing dress up like the fluffy butted princess that she is so, we decided to give the DinkyDogClub a try. The website was super cute and had lots of cool items to choose. We ended up with:

  1. A twilight black Hawaiian hibiscus dog dress with matching leash (size Large). I love flowers, and I adore this pattern. (5 stars)
  2. A doggie design diaper (size Large) to see if Charlotte would be able to get it off. (5 stars)
  3. A Bark notes collar sleeve (FRIENDLY) that can be used by Charlotte, but Stan Lee would need an, “I’m shy” collar tag. (3 stars)
  4. A pack of Vegalicious Crazy Coconut Crunchy Treats that was amazing and yummy smelling when I cracked open the bag. (4 stars)
  5. An itty bitty cute decal that is definitely going on my FIAT SPIDER 124 which is lovingly named Bart’s window.

The Review

Hawaiian Hibiscus Dog Dress w/ Matching Leash
Doggie Design Diaper

The first thing we tried out was that adorable dress. It was freakishly well made (almost indestructible), and the velcro and body shape helped make getting it on to Charlotte that much easier. The construction of the dress itself was unique. It was the like a hide-a-vest with a skirt on it which does a good job of fitting the dog without compromising the stability promised from a harness. Furthermore, Charlotte was so cute in it that I just had to put on her little diaper to see how it would go! It too was super cute, and to Charlotte’s chagrin, she couldn’t get it off which is saying something. Before she was spayed she would not keep on her diapers, and it was like chasing a fish with your bare hands every time a change was needed– not fun at all!

Vegalicious Crazy Coconut Crunchy Treats

After Stan Lee got done looking at and giving her two paws up for her cute new clothes, we cracked open the Vegalicious treats. First of all, those treats smelled glorious. As a human, I wanted to try them.  That’s how yummy they smelled, and apparently the dogs agreed because the treats are gone and I’m getting a death glare for not having more to give. They are made from coconut and are plant based. If your pup is ok with treats which aren’t chock full of meat, these would make for a perfect training incentive.

Bark Notes Collar Sleeve

The only product that I would make any changes to is the Bark Notes Collar Sleeve. While the small “Friendly” tag works for a friendly dog, there are a lot of inattentive and inconsiderate people in the world who will either not notice or not care about a smallish tag. We unfortunately have first-hand knowledge of this because a small girl ran screaming up to our poor Stan Lee when he was a puppy and scared the begeebus out of him. Then, other people kept approaching without asking to pet him and would just reach out and touch him without his consent… and bibbidy bobbidy boo he became the shy and protective dog that he is. If the tag was a little bigger with a bolder print, it would go a long way to identify if a dog is or is not ok to pet, but you still will have to practice heavy preventative screening if your dog is shy. That being said, the tag is rugged and well made. It can stand up to some puppy chewing on the lead (we put it there after people kept ignoring it on Charlotte’s collar).

All in all, I’d say this is a first-rate shop that knows their clients and gives them what they want. Good Dog Gold Standard and some very happy paws way up! (5 total stars)

Visit the DinkyDogClub at https://www.dinkydogclub.com/ and check out their products at https://www.dinkydogclub.com/collections/all