Dishing on dogs: Q&A with Ottawa Dog Blog’s Liz Bradley

Photo Credit: Liz Bradley

Liz Bradley is a dog lover and photographer living in Ottawa with her partner in crime/husband, Thomas, and three dogs; Paddington, a Maltese/Yorkie mix; Corduroy, a Maltese/ShihTzu mix; and Wellington a Yorkie/ShihTzu mix. She loves dogs, candy, milk, tomato juice, grocery shopping, shoes, movies and DVDs, and most of all, her amazing hubby!

So, tell us where your passion for dogs began.

Liz, with Paddington & Corduroy

I was that kid in the library who would pull out all the books about dogs and just read them right there. I’ve loved dogs for as long as I can remember, and not only loved them, but been pretty obsessed with learning everything and anything about them that I could. Growing up, our family had a miniature poodle named Princess (I named her as a kid) and she was the love of my life until she passed away.

My husband and I brought home our first dog, Paddington, a Yorkie/Maltese mix four years ago and once again I became fully obsessed with everything dog related. When Paddington was just over a year old, she was diagnosed with luxating patellas, a knee condition which required surgery on one knee, and routine massage therapy on the other. Through this, we discovered that she had actually come from a puppy mill and we were devastated to have unknowingly supported such a horrendous place. It was then that I set out to provide a place online for the people of Ottawa to have easy access to local rescues and not support puppy mills – and so the Ottawa Dog Blog was born.

You have three dogs now, including a very new addition to the family: Paddington, Corduroy and Wellington. How different are the dogs’ personalities? And how’s time management with a full house?

They are all so different – each having their own unique personality.

Paddington

Paddington is a four-year-old Yorkie/Maltese mix and she is pretty much like the energizer bunny – she just keeps going. She was energetic from puppyhood and is still very active now. She is a scardy-dog and is a lot more shy than the others, although she loves other dogs and people – she just hates vacuums, me cooking (I tend to set off the smoke alarm) and when the windows in the bedroom are open (don’t get this one at all). She is a big sweetheart and protects us on a daily basis from the ever impending squirrel invasion.

Corduroy

Corduroy is a three-year-old Maltese/ShihTzu mix and she is a fluffy ball of cuteness. Her favourite things in the world are napping in the sun, cheese and her stuffed lime toy. She also hates the vacuum, but prefers to take in some fresh air outside (safe from the scaryness) while we are using it and also despises getting groomed, even though she loves our groomer. She is such a sweetheart and will lick you pretty much forever if you let her.

Wellington

Wellington, our newest addition, is a one-year-old ShihTzu/Yorkie mix who we rescued in March from Animatch. She was surrendered by her previous owners because she had too much energy for them, but she is perfect for our family! She actually has LESS energy and stamina than Paddington and the three play all the time. Her favourite things are bananas, her Kong Wubba toy and curling up on her humans for a nap. She dislikes having her nails trimmed and doesn’t like it when it’s time to put her bully stick away for the night.

Is Ottawa a dog-friendly city? 

Liz, with Paddington & Corduroy

This is an interesting question because my answer would be both yes and no.  Overall, Ottawa is not a dog-friendly city, but there are little pockets of the city, like Westboro and the Glebe, that are. There are a lot of  pet-focused shops, but not a lot of off leash dog parks, aside from the  two well-known ones (Bruce Pit and Conroy Pit).

The best places to visit with your dog would be Westboro in my opinion. Almost every store, including the bank, will let you go in with your dog and some stores, LuLuLemon in particular, even has dog bowls and treats on hand for your pooch inside the store!

My favourite pet focused shops are Bark & Fitz in Westboro and Global Pet Foods in Hintonburg. Both have great selections and knowledgeable staff who can help you out with pretty much any inquiry. Both stores are also very charity focused – they both host fundraisers for local rescues on a regular basis.

This is important to me and I really like that they make a big effort to give back to the community and raise funds as well as awareness for the causes.

There is a very full calender of dog-related events on your blog, including charity events. What’s the easiest way for new dog-lovers to Ottawa to get involved and meet other owners?

The charity events page and calendar widget on the side of the blog is a  great way for Ottawa dog owners to find out what dog events and charity fundraisers are happening in the city. The peak season for these events is during the summer, where something is happening almost every weekend.

Paddington, Wellington and Corduroy

Dog lovers should bring their dogs out to these events to socialize the dogs to other four legged friends as well as to people – it’s really important to continue to socialize your dog throughout its whole life.  We try to make it out to as many fundraising events as we can and I take all three of our dogs to Bark & Fitz’s Dog Socials at the Westboro location. Socials are events held inside the store for like-sized or like-breed dogs. My three are a part of the “Small Fries Social Club” and there is a social meetup in the store about once a month.

You’ve also launched on the site recently the Ottawa Dog Park Finder. What criteria makes a dog park good? Have all your experiences with Ottawa’s parks been positive?

Liz, with Paddington & Corduroy

The Ottawa Dog Park Finder has been a huge hit with Ottawa dog owners.

I began this project years ago and was mapping the parks by hand and it was such a big job that I ended up giving up on it. In stepped my wonderful husband, Ottawa Web Consultant and Professor, Thomas Bradley, and he was able to use the city’s open data initiative to automatically generate a list of dog parks and display those using Google Maps – it’s pretty awesome.

The list is from the city and users can rate the parks  using three criteria; the park itself, the other dogs and people, and the “poopiness”. We felt these three issues were the best way to rate the parks, having been to  many ourselves.

We love going to Bruce Pit and always have a great time walking there. The only times it’s an issue is when the snow is melting and there’s too much water – our three are so small that they almost have to swim across the puddles! I love taking the dogs there in the early evenings in the  summer – it’s so relaxing and the dogs just love it. Paddington’s favourite part is the sandy area – she goes crazy and runs all around!

While you’re a full-time dog owner, you’re also a pet, portrait and wedding photographer. Which is more fun to shoot: pets or people? 

Corduroy

I love being a photographer and I love photographing pets and people for different reasons.

With pets, dogs in particular, you never know what kind of session it will be. They are constantly moving and playing and these sessions are so much fun for me! I love capturing the true spirit of each dog I photograph, as well as that amazing bond and connection between the dog and its owners – it is just so beautiful.

Wellington

Photographing people is another passion of mine and it’s nice because they actually listen to me – I can ask them to do something without having to bribe them with treats!

I love interacting with the people I photograph  and hearing about their stories and what is important to them in their lives – whether it be each other, their children or a milestone they’ve just reached.

Neither type of session is easier, each just bring their own challenges and I  really love that. Every session is different and it keeps me on my toes.

Describe your perfect day in Ottawa.

Liz, with Paddington & Corduroy

My perfect day in Ottawa would begin with some sleeping in with the dogs.  Thomas and I would get up and have a late breakfast and spend the day enjoying each other’s company – we are both so busy it’s nice to be  together to catch up. Then we would have a nice walk with the pups in  the early evening at Bruce Pit and settle in for the evening to watch some TV with the dogs. Oh and there would be chocolate and candy in there somewhere for Thomas and I.

Thanks Liz! Managing three energetic dogs AND an awesome website — we’re impressed!

Do you know anyone we should be chatting with? Drop us a line!