Have a Yappy St. Pawtyís Day: And may the sun shine upon you, and the wind be at your back, as you parade around Destin with your pooch and a map.

A well groomed Pooch Park? Yip, yap, yep. Our well groomed Destin Dog Park located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail is free for you and your furry four-legged kids too, but the park is maintained solely through your generous donations. A donation box is located at the park and itís hungry, so please feed it often. Have a pawsome visit and many happy tails to you. 

Woof, Woof, What? Is your older dog having senior moments? People are told, ďIf you donít use it, you lose it.Ē Older dogs can have similar problems. Aging folks are told to do puzzles and brain teasers to keep their minds sharp. Creating some brain teasers for Fido is easy to do. Try a new toy, like those that allow you to put a treat inside a puzzle ball. It takes some good problem solving skills to get that treat out. Put a favorite toy under a laundry basket, or place a marrow bone in a large empty plastic water jug with no cap on it and watch him push them around to reach his reward.

Any gentle, but stimulating, exercises will keep his body and mind healthy and happy. When my aged pooch Tucker lets me know heís bored, I cover his eyes with one hand and toss his toy somewhere in the house. He can hear the rubber bone drop but has no idea where it landed. He has to sniff around quite a while to find it. Itís just like an Easter egg hunt for him. Exercising the brain with challenging tasks tends to slow down degeneration in both people and their pooches.

Tuckerís Pooch Philosophy: If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your primal intuition; we do. A dog instinctively sees that which is invisible to the human eye.

Doggy Docs say that arthritis is one of the most common ailments affecting middle aged to senior dogs. It can cause pain and affect their quality of life. Arthritis occurs when joint changes cause the bones to move abnormally within the joint. This abnormal movement can wear down the cartilage creating chronic inflammation and pain in people and pets. So to prevent or delay arthritis, just move it or lose it.

The most obvious sign of arthritis is limping. However, there are other signs that may indicate your furry kid is hurting. Does your dog seem to be slowing down? Has he begun to avoid stairs? Does he need help to get in and out of the car? Then he may be in pain. If the shadow that used to follow you all around the house begins to hide or stay in one place, itís time to visit the local doggie docs.                            

 PawScript: See a vet promptly for any sudden decrease in your dogís level of alertness, drooling or onset of lameness w/no obvious cause. Some local plants and insect bites can cause rapid serious illness and even death. 

Burrs, Thorns, and Dog Gone Sand Spurs: Not all limping is caused by age or arthritis. Check your dogís paws for sharp painful sand spurs. If the foot pads are OK, then lay the dog down and use a pen light with a magnifying glass to look into the upper foot. If a spur or thorn is found, then have someone hold his collar and use a tweezers to slowly and gently pull it out. Sometimes, just trimming the paw hair with a small rounded tip scissors will remove it. Check to be sure you have removed the entire spur or thorn. Call your vet for disinfecting tips. See your vet ASAP for any bites, stings, swelling, cuts or lacerations as treatment with an antibiotic may be needed.

The Bark of the Irish: A dogís twist on an old Irish tale. If you want blame, then marry. If you want praise, and unconditional love, get a dog.

There are only three kinds of men who can't understand women ó young men, old men, and men of middle age. But a dog always understands.

Booster Shot Needed? Does your business need a boost? Advertise a discount savings coupon for customers under The Pooch Scoop News for as low as 25 bucks. Business ads do not have to be pet-related.

Chow for Now: And may the luck of the Irish Setter always be with you.

P.A. Melleí, a.k.a The Destin Dog Whisperer/Pooch Scoop Reporter, is a resident of Destin, freelance writer and American Red Cross volunteer. Contact her at  mustlovedogs@cox.net.