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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.

To Chip Or Not To Chip

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One of the things I love about Facebook is that when you join pages dedicated to dogs, you are given access to many opinions on many topics.  And this gets me thinking.  The most recent topic I read was of a dog who was reunited with his owner after 15 months of being lost.  The dog was turned in to the local animal shelter as a stray after being gone for 15 months.  After scanning the dog's microchip, the staff contacted his owner and the two were reunited.  What an amazing turnout!  After 15 long months!  What was responsible for this dog's reunion other than the loving people who coordinated it?  The microchip. 

However, in the comments were a few rants claiming that microchips cause cancer in our pets.  A debate occurred with one particular person standing by her opinion that a collar with a tag would do the same thing a microchip does.  She claimed that cancer was not worth it and microchipping is not the answer.  This caused a small uproar, some people were surprised stating, "OMG!  Are you serious?  Cancer?"  Some folks argued, "Everything causes cancer."  Surprisingly, only those who supported the use of microchips referred to studies that showed a small percentage of chipped animals developed cancer.  So out of curiosity, I decided to do my own research.

Studies Show Risk

The American Animal Hospital Association supported the use of microchips and provided guidelines for its placement.  I didn't bother looking at the FDA site because, well, they approve of many foods and drugs that are debunked as safe.  I figured, why bother.

2133333333333333333333333333330

My apologies, that crazy jibberish was given by Bruce, who decided to lay his gigantic head on my keyboard to say hello.

Back To The Topic At Hand

According to the article, Subcutaneous soft tissue tumours at the site of implanted microchips in mice, 0.8% of animals tested developed tumors at the implantation site (Tillmann et al., 1997).  This study was done on 4, 279  mice over their lifespan.  0.8%.  So, yes there is some risk of cancer.  But is 0.8% enough to convince me to NOT support a device that is known to reunite pets with their owners?

Additionally, according to TIME author, Siobhan Morrissey, one microchip-induced tumor study "was conducted in mice specifically bred to produce tumors" (Morrissey, 2007).  How reliable are these studies, really?

In Conclusion

Everything comes with risk.  How many Facebook posts, blogs, and Enquire articles have announced cancer-causing products or all kinds?  Even Mayo Clinic states that many claims and myths about products that cause cancer are false.  The real question is: Are the risks worth it?  In my opinion, regarding microchips, yes.  A collar and tag may do the same thing a microchip does ... provided the tag is updated with updated information and the collar is not removed while the dog is lost.  However, when your pet is turned in to a shelter or vet clinic, the first thing that is accomplished by the staff is a microchip scan. 

But what do you think?  The research is out there.  The stories of reunions are all over the web.  There is definitely a risk (although small) of your pet developing cancer at some point in his life.  It's your pet, it is your choice. 


Reference List:

Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-causes/CA00085

Morrissey, S., Are Microchip Tags Safe?, TIME Health & Family, http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1672865,00.html, 2007

Tillman, T., Kamino, K., Dasenbrock, C., Ernst, H., Kohler, M., Morawietz, G., Campo, E., Cardesa, A., ... Mohr, U., http://www.antichips.com/cancer/07-tillmann-et-al-1997.pdf, 1997

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Other Topics

Bruce's Progress On Raw
The raw diet has been working really well for Bruce.  He is 10 days in and so far he has had no transition issues.  He absolutely loves this diet. 

Last Night's Dinner:
Turkey
Salmon
Apple
Celery
Rosemary
Mint
Cottage cheese
Probiotic yogurt

Dessert:
1 chicken leg



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RIP
MWD Beny
 
Show your support for Military Working Dogs
by visiting their Facebook page:
 
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Dogstagram
Dogs On Instagram
Posted by @Azlynnmcleod
 
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A Note To Bruce
22 October 2013
Dear Bruce,
I absolutely love your doggie smile and how you know we're about to go outside to sit in the patio.  I love how crazy you get when I make my voice sound ridiculously mushy and how you do a puppy run through our tiny apartment, knocking things over with your tail.  You're 90lbs, dude, you aren't small.  What I mostly love today is how you lay your big head on my keyboard as if you're saying, "Enough typing.  Can you hang with me?"  I couldn't get enough of your sweetness.
Love Always,
The Woman
 
A Loan From God
Author Unknown
 
God promised at the birth of time, a special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, he said, so love him while he lives.
 
It may be six or seven years, or twelve or then sixteen,
but will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
 
A wagging tail and cold wet nose, and silken velvet ears,
a heart as big as all outdoors, to love you through the years.
 
His puppy ways will gladden you, and antics bring a smile,
as guardian or friend he will, be loyal all the while.
 
He'll bring his charms to grace your life, and though his stay be brief,
when he's gone the memories, are solace for your grief.
 
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
but lessons only a dog can teach, I want you each to learn.
 
Whatever love you give to him, returns in triple measure,
follow his lead and gain a life, brim full of simple pleasure.
 
Enjoy each day as it comes, allow your heart to guide,
be loyal and steadfast in love, as the dog there by your side.
 
Now ill you give him all your love, nor think the labour vain,
nor hate me when I come to call, to take him back again?
 
I fancy each of us would say, "Dear Lord, thy will be done,
for all the joy this day shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run."
 
"We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may,
and for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay."
 
"But shall the angels call for him, much sooner than we've planned,
we'll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand."
 
 
Thank you for reading today's post.
I love my dog because he loved me first.
I pray dog owners love their dogs as much as their dogs love them.
Don't hit, don't scream
Just love.
 
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Bruce Goes Raw

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bruce Goes Raw
There is a big debate about feeding dogs raw.  Some say dogs will get sick because of bacteria from raw meat while others insist dogs are designed to eat this way.  There is a plethora of resources available to anyone who is interested in exploring this method of feeding.  I've done my research on commercial pet food and after doing so, decided to put my dog (and past dogs) on a higher quality (more expensive) commercial food.  But still, I just wasn't satisfied that my dog was getting the right nutrients.  Or maybe he was getting enough to live and still enjoy life, but I wanted him to have a natural diet with more options and varieties to keep him interested and happy with his own food.

I've spoken to dog owners who feed their dogs raw and am amazed at the changes it has made in their dog's life.  Everything from allergies to energy level has been affected.  After reading books authored by both dog owners and veterinarians, I've learned that a raw diet is not only safe but is highly applauded.  Of course, some dogs cannot handle a raw diet, so their owners keep them on home-cooked, which is still way better than commercial dog food.  I'd even considered putting Bruce on a home-cooked diet instead of raw just because raw seemed so intimidating.  But alas, after years of debating whether or not to put Bruce on a raw diet, I've decided to make the switch. 

Here is a simple break-down of how to go raw.  I've just started, so I'm only knowledgeable on what works for my dog.  I'll make sure to provide links to resources at the bottom so you can get more detailed information!

What Goes Into A Raw Diet?
Meat
(muscle and organ, but way more muscle than organ)
  • Use variety!  Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey.  I'm staying away from pork because it seems that this meat is harder for dogs to digest, though some people have managed to make this work. 
  • The purer the meat, the better.  Organic or chemical-free meat is the best because you don't have to worry about drugs or hormones will be consumed by your dog.
  • Do not use spoiled meat!  Use meat that you would eat. 
  • Once the dog is done eating, take the bowl away.  Do not allow the meat to sit and the dog to come back to it later. 

Raw Meaty Bones
  • Knuckle bones, chicken/turkey necks and backs, wings, drumsticks, etc.  These are excellent and needed for calcium!  They also are great for dental health. 
**Don't ever give cooked or frozen bones!**

Eggs and Dairy
  • Raw eggs.  Use hormone-free, drug-free, free-range eggs.  Although many people fear salmonella poisoning, this isn't commonly found to be a problem with dogs.  If your dog normally has problems with digestion, cooking the egg will be just fine.
  • Cottage cheese and plain yogurt are wonderful sources of protein.

Pastas and Rice
Yes, pastas and brown rice is great for your dog.  Get wise on how much to give and you can have a wonderful variety for your dog!

Veggies, Legumes, Herbs, and Beans
These are important as there are many vitamins that are offered by them.  Some may need to be cooked while some can be fed raw.  Always be aware of veggies and herbs that are poisonous for your dog. 

Extras
Supplements, egg shells, etc.  These are needed to provide anything that the diet doesn't contain.  Some raw feeders don't utilize supplements because the diet they offer is well-balanced.  Use your own judgment.  Do some research on how much to give your dog so you don't overdose! 

How Do You Put Them Together?
  • More meat, 1/4-1/2 veggies, and just a teeny bit of herbs.  For Bruce, I use 1 cup of meat, 1/4 cup of veggies, a few dashes of herbs, a raw egg, and a tablespoon of cottage cheese!  Then I give him a dessert-- chicken wings or necks.
  • I use a food processor (cheap on at Walmart for $10) to chop up the food, then I mix them all together and make a big glop of everything.  It looks disgusting. 
  • Serve the food at room temperature for a smoother digestion.  Cold food upsets tummies.  You can add a little warm water or even put the food in a Ziploc bag and heat it up a little in some warm-hot water.  Don't get it too hot, though.  You want the food to stay live with vitamins and nutrients!

Can I Store Them?
Yes!  It'll be best to keep the next two days' supply in the fridge and freeze everything else.  You should freeze each meal separately so you don't waste any.  Once thawed, you can't refreeze.

Hopefully this doesn't seem as intimidating to you as it did to me.  It isn't as crazy as I thought it would be.  And don't worry about getting every nutrient and vitamin in one meal every time.  As long as the diet balances out over the course of a week, you'll be fine. 

I'll be posting progress updates on Bruce! 

A Few Online Sources
The Dog Guide
Raw Feeding FAQ
Raw Food Diet For Dogs

Suggested Reading-- I found the books to be best for me

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats - The Ultimate Diet
by Kymythy R. Schultze, CCN, AHI

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide To Natural Health For Dogs & Cats
by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Dogs On The Web

Papa Dog

Papa Dog's story is beautiful and enlightening.  Saved from death on the streets, he was brought into a warm home. 
Then one day while I was roaming in traffic, I became very weak and had to lay down in the middle of the road, where I almost got run over. All of a sudden, an angel appeared and she helped get me out of the road. She didn't want me to get hurt, or something far worse. My angels name is Kayla, aka mommy.
Papa's saviors opened their hearts and their home to him, wanting to never let him hurt again.
She knew something was wrong ...
Papa Dog is in need of your help!  Due to his rough life, he was left with many medical issues.  His new family is faced with the financial challenge of getting him better.  They are so close to reaching their goal!
We are just a little over $100 to our goal to get Papa his injections. I am so thankful!! What a relief to know that Papa is going to soon be heart worm free. Thank you so very much.

Last week was a rough one....
 
Please go to his site and donate-- they don't need much more, but the quicker you can help the better! 
 
 
 
Talkin' About Walkin'
The weather has been beautiful the past few weeks.  The family and I have been taking advantage of it by going for nice long walks!  Because we live in an apartment (a teeny one), we make it a point to stretch Bruce's legs as much as we can.  And walks (or runs) do just that.
 
I just love going for walks because it's peaceful, the dog absolutely digs it, and I get a chance to see some nature!  The kids can poke holes in the ground with sticks and do boy things like scream and run.  Plus, I get to take some pretty awesome pictures!
 
When you're strapped for space, get that leash and grab your camera.  Put nature in your life!
 
 
Cute Bruce Moment
I was trying to do my homework the other night.
Sitting at my desk.
School book on my lap.
Bruce quietly comes over.
He puts his big head on my book.
And stares at me with large brown eyes that say
"Hi."
I was trying to do my homework the other night.
But I rubbed ears instead.
And I massaged a giant puppy.
And I kissed a nose.
And he was happy.
 
 
Thanks for reading today's post!
I write not for myself but for Bruce and others like him
who sit behind bars waiting for a home.
 
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