Introducing Bert and Ernie, eleven-year-old dachshund brothers, and Amber, their incredible mom! We recently had the chance to connect with Amber of Edmonton, Alberta about the whole family’s experience with Thermotex. Read about how Bert and Ernie make a difference in Amber’s life, how they’re giving back to others, and how Thermotex became a part of their story. We’re honoured to share Amber’s words!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how Bert and Ernie came into your life?
I am a registered psychologist in Edmonton with a serious love of all dogs—especially weens. I remember seeing my first dachshund when I was in grade five and begging my parents to keep one of her puppies when she got pregnant. They eventually said yes—but the puppy we got was a mixed breed that looked nothing like a dachshund! I loved that puppy, but I also remember vowing that I would eventually own a full breed dachshund.
Today, I am a single pet parent who takes the health and well-being of my senior dachshunds seriously because they helped me through a tremendously difficult time in my life. My father died tragically and unexpectedly 13 years ago shortly before I was about to complete graduate studies at the University of Alberta. Although I was able to complete my PhD and become a registered psychologist, I was miserable.
After more than a year of intense grieving, I knew I needed help moving forward. I thought a dog might be the answer and I started looking around for dachshund puppies. I saw an ad listed by a woman whose dachshunds had unexpectedly mated. There were only two puppies born in the litter and I drove to Red Deer to look at them. After sitting on the floor for just a few minutes with those two sweethearts wriggling around on my lap, I knew was in trouble because I would not be able to leave one behind. I took both and never looked back! I drove back to Edmonton in a bit of a panic wondering what the heck I had done and if I would be able to keep them alive. It turns out that I am a pretty great pet parent!
My job is extremely stressful, and I am at high risk of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. Bert and Ernie have helped me in a way that words may not adequately capture. They have been a true joy in my life, and we have been on wonderful adventures together. We have climbed hills, hiked ravines, pounded pavement, chased balls, slipped in mud, swum in water, biked trails, jumped in snow and run on treadmills with joy throughout the past 11 years. One of the things people love most about Bert and Ernie is seeing them run on the treadmill, which really is hilarious to watch. We have fostered dozens of dogs on their way to forever homes, and Bert and Ernie have taught scared and mistreated dogs how to live the good life.
Because I saw firsthand how animals could improve mental health, Bert and Ernie were also the impetus for me becoming involved in Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Animal Society (CAAWLS). CAAWLS is an organization that certifies animals as wellness animals (aka therapy animals) so they can volunteer in the community and help alleviate emotional stress. There are dozens of CAAWLS programs throughout Edmonton and area serving the community in schools, universities, seniors’ facilities, women’s shelters, hospitals, and so on. After volunteering on the board of directors for a couple of years, I became the president for a three-year term. I recently stepped down and am now in the role of past president. While on the board, Ernie and I also volunteered in the community. One of our favorite placements was at Wings of Providence, a second stage women’s shelter, where we worked for two years with children of families who had fled family violence. Ernie continues to be a CAAWLS-certified wellness animal who is currently on medical leave due to a back injury, which is where Thermotex enters our story.
How do you keep Bert and Ernie healthy and happy?
I have tried my best to keep Bert and Ernie healthy and happy by providing them with the highest quality food, products, and experiences I possibly can. The dachshund breed is high maintenance and they require a lot of time and attention. Regular exercise is key to good physical health and mental stimulation, and they love to exercise! In fact, they love to exercise so much that I trained them to run on the treadmill during the winter because they were not getting enough exercise in Edmonton’s cold winter months. Their vet approved them to run up to an hour a day on the treadmill and they go a bit crazy when they find out they get to run on it.
How has Thermotex supported with keeping them healthy and happy?
Back issues are probably the number one issue that dachshund owners fear the most. The breed is highly susceptible to back injuries as well as a condition called Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD. I stumbled across Thermotex after Ernie recently experienced his second back episode of back pain. He just completed six weeks of strict crate rest that included almost no walking to help heal his back pain. It is difficult to see your dog in pain and even more difficult to see them cooped up in a crate while they heal. He has been diagnosed with mild IVDD, but the reality is that a disc in his spine could rupture at any time, which could result in permanent paralysis and incontinence. It is a scary condition and I want to try my best to limit his pain and prevent future IVDD episodes. I joined a Facebook group dedicated to animals with IVDD and someone mentioned Thermotex, so I decided to check it out.
As soon as I read about Thermotex and its many advantages, I immediately decided to buy a Thermotex Far Infrared Heated Ped Bed (Large) for both dogs. Bert has been lucky to avoid back issues so far, but he has an old injury in each shoulder from repetitive ball play. If I am being honest, I would have bought a Thermotex bed for Bert even without his old injuries to prevent future back issues. For Ernie, I knew that infrared heat would be perfect to help alleviate pain and provide comfort as he transitioned off crate rest and I was right. Both Bert and Ernie LOVE their Thermotex dog beds and now refuse to sleep anywhere else but in those. They even try to steal my human Thermotex pads when I am using mine!
We hear you have a Thermotex unit of your own! Why did you decide to try it?
I decided to purchase two Thermotex units of my own (the Platinum pad and the Gold pad) because I have an old back and neck injury that I knew could benefit from infrared therapy. I figured if I was going to help relieve my dogs’ pain, I should also treat my own!
How has Thermotex helped your wellness/relieved your pain?
I find Thermotex to be incredibly relaxing and soothing. It relieves my back and neck pain unlike any other remedy I have tried. I use it every night and have had a significant reduction in pain as a result. I am so grateful to be able to improve my wellness in such a simple way!
What is your favourite thing about being a fur parent to Bert and Ernie?
My absolute favorite thing about being a fur parent to Bert and Ernie is how much they make me laugh. It is not an exaggeration to say that they make me laugh hysterically multiple times every day. I also love how much they make other people laugh. They are such hilarious little characters and they honestly seem to love to make me laugh. I treat them as well as I possibly can because there is just no other way to repay them for the joy and relief that they have brought to my life.
What is exciting and on the horizon for your family?
I work in a high school with a high-risk population of students. I am excited to have the summer off and am embarking (no pun intended) on a personal wellness journey working towards improved physical health. It is comforting to know that Bert and Ernie will be there by my side pounding the pavement with me and we can come home to Thermotex to address any aches and pains. Once Ernie is cleared medically, we can resume volunteering as a CAAWLS team helping others in the community. Bert is a bit too anxious to be a wellness animal, so he gets to go on play dates when Ernie and I volunteer. I am also considering becoming a foster for the Alberta Dachshund Rescue, but I will need to make sure I prioritize my health goals before taking on any other challenges. Overall, I am relieved to have found a safe product that limits the pain my dogs experience and that also helps me manage my pain.
Want to follow along with Bert, Ernie and Amber’s latest adventures? You can find them on Instagram at: @_bert_and_ernie_