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My Bruce

Saturday, March 28, 2015



Bruce is 7 years old. He is young, but has bad hips and elbows. It shows when it's cold and his back leg gives out on short walks. But he gets back up, gives me a sweet smile as I rub his hip, and moves on. 

He never complains. He lays on the kitchen floor as I cook dinner. He waits up for me at night when I'm busy studying and he's ready for bed. 

Sometimes he gets a wild hire up his butt and takes off running through the house. He crashes into everything and everyone. He is 95 pounds and sounds like a horse when he does this. The kids scream at him and I just giggle. 

He shares his food with the cat. As long as she doesn't mind sharing hers with him too. 

Bruce loves everyone. I can't think of a single being he doesn't love. He chases squirrels, so I believe he loves them too. In a different way. 

He gets into the trash. So the trash can is now in the garage. If you leave food on the table, he uses his very sneaky skills to make it disappear. 

He chases our ferrets. But they always start it. 

If he accidentally falls out of the house through an open door, he will express his state of confusion by running everywhere and making friends with neighbors. 

I am in the military. I've gone on short tours of duty, worked late nights and moved across states. I could easily give him up in exchange for convenience. But I love my Bruce. He is a family member and my closest friend. I can't imagine life without him. 


Health Problems

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My happy boy needs to get better.
Bruce has been having accidents in our home lately.  And recently over the last few days it's been pretty frequent.  I'd been getting frustrated, wondering why he isn't telling me when he needs to go out.  He's just been urinating in random places at random times.  A couple of days ago I noticed he's been acting more anxious when I take him out.  Last night, I noticed a trail of urine and blood in my bedroom.  I realized he probably has a urinary tract infection (UTI).  So I brought him to the vet's office this morning.

I'd seen UTIs before and they're fairly easy to treat.  Antibiotics for 7-10 days or so and it clears right up.  So although my poor boy was feeling uncomfortable and hurting from a likely UTI, I didn't think too much more of it.  So as directed I dropped him off at the vet's office and awaited the call.

The vet was friendly on the phone, very kind and gentle with her words.  But it was still hard to hear past the shock.  The good news-- no kidney stones showed up on the x-rays.  The bad news?  He has a very high amount of red blood cells and transitional cells, which is consistent in transitional cell carcinoma.  In other words, bladder cancer.  Now, she told me, it doesn't mean he has it.  But it's a good possibility and I have to make sure I follow up with her after a week of antibiotics.  Our hope is that this all turns out to be just a bladder infection and that it clears up with the medication.  If not, we're doing an ultrasound.

How's that for news?  Either my 6 year old dog has a bladder infection.  Or he has cancer.  He's been under my bed all day except if he's outside peeing drips of pain.  He was a good sport taking his medication.  He gave me kisses and looked at me with big puppy eyes.  I can't help but feel afraid.  I'm hoping so much that it's just a bladder infection.

I guess all I can do for now is give him his meds, pray and wait.

Sigh - The Price of Dog Ownership

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

For the first time ever, I slipped in the snow as I was about to pick up dog poop.  Yay for firsts.

It's only 27 degrees out, but there is still snow out from our below-freezing weather a few days ago.  I took Bruce out as usual.  While he was busy sniffing around, I saw a bunch of dog poop and immediately became disgusted.  The poop was three feet away from the poop bags and can.  How rude!  

So I watched as Bruce did his business and then another dog owner came out.  His pretty yellow lab started barking at Bruce.  As his owner tried to hush him, Bruce (in mid-poop) started barking back.  When he was done, I grabbed a poop bag and made my way toward his mess.  Bruce had other things in mind besides waiting for me like he normally does.

He took off on zoomies, his butt tucked in and his head up high.  I called for him to come and he did, but I was already leaning into the lead and when he loosened it as he ran toward me, my foot went out from beneath me and I landed flat on my butt.  Right next to his mess.  Close one.

I looked up to see if the other dog owner was around to witness it, but to my relief he had already gone.  So I stood up, my hands all wet from the snow, and picked up the mess.

As I walked Bruce back home, I couldn't help but giggle.  I actually fell in the snow right next to the poop.  Gross.


The Dog In Your Home

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Dog In Your Home

Dogs are like children.  They don't understand English until you teach them.  Of course a dog would only know key words that are associated with results.  For instance, command + action = reward.  It works that way with children, only people usually use this with dogs for tricks and not actually a guided obedience like they do with children.  If humans instead went into dog training fully believing the relationship to be one of family, the training might just be more effective and beneficial for both the dog and the humans.  To have a successful canine family member, you must understand canines and the language they speak.

Dogs are and always have been pack animals.  They naturally know how their hierarchy is structured.  They know their place and they are very good pack members.  But when their pack consists of humans who don't understand the pack mentality, the dog is often confused about where he is in the hierarchy.  When the household is chaotic to a dog (which means the humans aren't properly placed in the hierarchy), the dog believes he must take control and become alpha since nobody else is stepping up to the plate.  However, because he is a dog and it is highly intimidating for him to lead a pack of humans, his leadership position isn't exactly compatible to ours.  And that's when the humans believe the dog is the problem.  If the dog was instead a child, the only differences taking place would be the type of "acting out" the child would have and the end result of the situation.  A dog would usually be dumped at a shelter while a child would never be given up.

Without enforcement of rules, children go absolutely crazy.  Don't they?  If there is no discipline in the home, the children believe they can do whatever they like whenever they like to.  Parents pull their hair out in frustration.  If, however, rules are enforced, discipline is consistent, and the relationship is balanced with healthy acts of love, children are very successful and even though they will make mistakes, they always come back to center.  All of this is the same for the dog in the home.

Understanding your dog's language, speaking to him in that language, and working with him to maintain his place in the pack will plant in him that security he needs as a pack member.  Set your dog up for success by doing these things.  So many dogs end up in shelters because their humans were ignorant to the fact that dogs do in fact have their own language and it isn't English.

I received training through Bark Busters, which made a difference in my perspective of the dog in my home. Check out the following video to see what I'm talking about.


Say What?? You Home-Cook For Your Dog????

Those of you who home-cook or raw-feed your dog know the funny looks, sarcastic remarks, and even looks of disgust (either for the raw idea or just the mere fact that you don't feed kibble).  These reactions come from friends, family members, and strangers alike.  The food people feed their dog is their choice, but I've noticed that whenever we discuss the topic a lot of the time we can be judgmental towards the other person's feeding choice.  I've seen raw-feeders shake their heads at kibble-feeders in dismay.  At the same time, I've also seen raw-feeders shake their heads at home-cookers.  I've seen kibble-feeders rant and rave about the health and sanitary concerns that accompanies raw-feeding.  And a mix of all feeders quibbling over who's wrong and who's right.  Here's the deal:  Find what works for both you and your dog!

Chicken, carrots, brown rice, veggie pasta.
Add an egg, cottage cheese, and herbs to complete it!
I switched from raw-feeding to home-cooking because I honestly couldn't stand trying to keep up with keeping Bruce's mouth free of raw food.  He licks my and the kids' faces and even though I brushed his teeth and wiped his face clean after he ate, I couldn't shake the idea that I might not have cleaned enough.  So I home-cook now.  And honestly, Bruce and I both love it.

I've found home-cooking to be lots of fun.  I always make sure to mash the veggies either when it's cooked or prior to mixing with the cooked meal.

I still get the funny looks.  But it's okay.  It's my choice.  And if you find yourself feeling a little embarrassed when strangers think you're weird or maybe feeling not-enough when others think you're not feeding the "best," just remember:  As long as your dog is getting what he needs to live a happy, healthy life, it's probably the right choice.

Health tip:  Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids reduce lactate levels and have the ability to reduce or eliminate metastatic disease?  Cancer cells thrive on sugars and create lactate as a waste product.  Lactate poisons the animal by depleting its energy, thus weakening it.

Bruce watches me prepare his food with a look that says,
"Why must you punish me by taking forever?"

Belly Problems? Use Pumpkin!

Pumpkin puree (you can get it canned as long as it is 100% pure and not mixed with other ingredients) is a great stabilizer for an upset digestive system.

Daily Dose
10 lb dog - 1 tblspn
20 lb dog - 3 tblspn
40 lb dog - 1/4 cup
60 lb dog - 1/2 cup

Make It Yourself

You'll need 1 (3-4 lb) pumpkin

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Wash outside of pumpkin and cut into quarters
  3. Scoop out the inside and discard the fibers
  4. Place pumpkin quarters flesh side down in the bottom of a large roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet
  5. Roast for 45 minutes until flesh is tender
  6. Allow the pumpkin to cool
  7. Scoop out flesh and discard the skin
  8. Puree the pumpkin in batches in a food processor for about 30 secs until smooth
    1. Or mash with a potato masher
  9. Use immediately
    1. Or store in fridge for up to 1 week
    2. Or store in freezer for up to 6 months
Yields 2-3 cups
You can drain this mixture and use the liquid to pour over dog food.

Book Highlight

In Dogs We Trust is a collection of true stories written by a multitude of authors.  Don't scroll past this one--click on the link to check it out!

Description from the site:


The Hardcover Edition of In Dogs We Trust is an Autographed Special Edition: Includes More than 10 new stories from celebrated authors.

 “If you love dogs…..and even if you haven’t yet been touched by one, you will understand how magical they are….as Angels, healers of traumatic wounds, teachers, therapists, heroes, saviors, and friends.”

A book by world class writers with all proceeds going to the Lt. Michael Murphy Scholarship Fund, Freedom Service Dogs, The Warrior Dog Foundation and National Mill Dog Rescue….
“The stories will make you laugh and cry and put you in touch with your inner dog…”

 Movie Must-See

The Dog Fighter is movie that leads us on the journey through MMA Fighter, Gordon Shell's mission- the fight for the dogs.  Despite a serious medical condition that ended his MMA career, he has chosen to risk his health, maybe even his life, fighting to rescue dogs in need.  What an amazing story.  You MUST see this.
 

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