Sundays with April Ross & Roo

Welcome to our "Sundays with..." series, featuring modern dog parents who inspire us! Today we speak with professional volleyball player April Ross and her dog Roo about tricks & treats for the modern dog parent.

Tell us about your dog! What’s your dog’s name and what is the meaning behind it? What breed is she? What’s her personality like?
My dog’s name is Rooney, we call her Roo. My boyfriend is a soccer fan and named her after the player Wayne Rooney. We haven’t gotten her DNA tested, but her mom was a bull mastiff, we also think she’s possibly part Hound and maybe German Shepherd or Rottweiler. She is super sweet and pretty goofy, but also likes to protect mom and our house, she has a hefty bark, but isn’t aggressive at all. She loves playing with other dogs, loves fetch and the beach. She’s pretty spoiled, I get her new toys often and seasonal collars. She also likes to dress up so I get her Halloween and Christmas outfits. She demands to be walked after dinner and will just stare at us and even bark at us if we’re not quick enough. She’s definitely a fierce female!

H​ow did ​Roo​ become a part of your life? Were dogs always a part of your family? 
I had a dog when I was younger, like maybe until I was 5 or 6, but not since then.  I’ve had several cats and then my boyfriend brought home Roo one day when I was gone at a volleyball tournament. He kind of surprised me with her, and I didn’t know if I was ready for a dog, but took on the responsibility full-heartedly. I definitely had a lot to learn about owning a dog though! There have been some ups and downs, but it's been great overall and I love her like she’s my daughter and take her with me everywhere I can. 

W​hat does your typical Sunday morning routine look like? What time do you wake up? What time do you eat breakfast and what do you typically eat? What parallels are there between your nutrition and that of your dog’s?

Our typical Sunday Routine:

7:30: snuggle in bed

8:00: get up, make coffee

9:00: Head down to the dog beach. This is Roo’s favorite thing to do by far. She knows the way we take when we go and can’t sit still in the car until we get there. She loves when we throw the ball for her into the shallow waves and absolutely loves being in the water even though she’s not a huge fan of actually swimming. She could stay down there all day, but she never wants to sit still, so once she gets all of her energy out we head back home.

10:00: We get home and Roo immediate jumps in her kiddie pool we have set up for her to cool off in.

10:15: Breakfast time! We feed her Sunday’s Beef Recipe which she absolutely loves. Then we make breakfast for ourselves as well. Just like when we feed Roo, we want to make sure we get a good combo of carbs, protein, and nutrients, so we usually make avocado toast with tomatoes freshly picked from our garden on top.

10:30-12:30: We hang out on the front porch and Roo watches the happenings on our street, making sure to “say hi” to every dog who goes by. I will usually catch up on emails and read while drinking more coffee. We just lounge around and enjoy our Sunday morning.

1:00: We either go over to my sister's house and say hi to her family including my niece and nephew, who Roo can’t get enough of, or over to my dad’s house to catch up with him and play with his dog, Cora.

3:00: nap time! If there’s one thing Roo loves as much as her Sunday’s dog food and the beach, it’s her naps!

4:30: We jump in my car to run any necessary errands for the week.

6:00: Start cooking dinner, Roo loves to help with this by sitting right in the middle of our narrow kitchen to catch anything we might accidentally drop on the floor.

7:00: We all sit down to a family dinner! Roo with her Sundays and us with our usual fare of meat and veggies.

7:30: Roo let’s us know she’s ready for her nighttime stroll around the neighborhood, so we take off.

8:00: Chill time on the couch with our favorite shows, right now I’m very into Outlander, but we also love Brooklyn 99 and Community.

8:45: Roo gets her zoomies, we play with her and her toys or chase her around the house and yard while she runs away from us with her favorite bone of the moment.

9:30: We hop into bed, Roo immediately passes out and starts snoring, while we read and wind down and get ready for the week ahead!
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What self-care rituals do you reserve for Sundays that are non-negotiables and essential to you? 
Every Sunday we make sure we do something as a family in the morning, Roo’s dad works 24 hour shifts so he can’t always be on our walks during the week and Roo loves having us all together. Reading and taking some self-reflection time after our Sunday morning activity is also non-negotiable. I also make it a priority to visit with my family that lives near by since I don’t get to see them during the week. We always take the opportunity to cook dinner and eat together as well on Sundays to wrap up the weekend. 

How has your Sunday morning routine changed over the years, and especially since getting a dog?
I never used to go on walks and actually getting into the routine of daily walks was one of the hardest things about owning a dog for me. My job is very physical and two extra 30/45 minute walks a day at first was really daunting, but I’ve learned to love this time with Roo, I find it very peaceful and get a lot of joy out of how much she enjoys it. I also spend more time at home on Sunday mornings. Before having a dog I’d go out to brunch a lot on Sundays, now I find it more fulfilling to make breakfast at home and spend the time relaxing with Roo.

How has being a dog parent enhanced your life? Do you consider your dog to be a member of the family?
Roo is very much a part of the family. I consider her my daughter and spoil her too often. She sleeps in the bed with us every night because I didn’t have the heart to banish her to the floor or her own bed. Now when we plan vacations we only look at dog-friendly places and consider where Roo would have fun vacationing as well. I love coming home every day to see how excited she is to see me and then go on our evening walk together. It’s a peaceful time of day and a great time to reflect on the day.
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What tips or advice do you have for a new dog parent that wants to ensure their dog is happy and healthy? 
Well, food is obviously one of the most important factors for a dog’s health, similar to a human, which is why finding dog food that has quality ingredients and the nutrients she needs to stay healthy is a priority of mine. I also believe it’s crucial to allow Roo to socialize, I want her to be dog friendly and play well with other dogs and I think being able to have doggy play dates is good for her mental health as well. When we go on walks I try not to take her on the same walk everyday, I want to mix up her routine to keep her entertained or go to new parks if we’re going to play fetch, I know she gets bored if we do the same walk too many times in a row.
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