I usually spend this time of year making up wishlists for dogs and cats, and with a new kitten in the house, there’s plenty she could be interested in finding under the tree (though for her, the tree itself is present enough). But then I saw a few things that I just had to stick on my Amazon Wishlist, and because I thought they were awesome I thought some of you out there might find them awesome too. If you want to get that special vet in your life something that blows the lid off a “I love dogs” keychain, here you go.
For the Glamourpuss: The Feline Hermes Scarf
OK, I don’t actually know any veterinarians who can afford a $600 scarf, or if they could would spend it on that as opposed to, say, one of those nifty electronic stethoscopes, but nonetheless it is beautiful and so I will put it here. Because you never know, lottery wins happen.
Not that I would bring this anywhere near a vet clinic filled with claws and anal glands, but it would make a heck of a statement as a surgery cap, wouldn’t it?
For the Shoe Fiend: Give your feet a bone
I’ve made no secret of it that I love fancy shoes. Do I get to wear them very much? Well, no, I actually wear Keens 99% of the time. Perhaps it is for this very reason that I so covet designer shoes, because they are as practical to my profession as, say, a Hermes surgical cap. But look, these Charlotte Olympias have BONES on them. BONES!
For the Person Who Can’t Resist Nativity Sets: Dachshund Nativity
I don’t care that dog nativity sets routinely round out top ten lists of worst nativity sets ever, I would put this out on my mantel every year with absolute glee. And given this Etsy lady’s shop is backordered, I don’t think I am the only one.
Custom breed nativity set, $106 on Etsy. I can request a Golden nativity set? Why do I never figure this stuff out until late December?
For the Vet with the Huge Tree in the Lobby: The Ornament that Says it all
The holidays are rough, tensions are high, tempers are low. When the vet or the tech comes out to meet you in the lobby covered in scratches, fur, and the apologetic cup of Nosorb indicating that, in fact, she was unable to obtain that urine sample after all, consider the wise words of Shel Silverstein and hug it out:
While I don’t advocate tackling your vet to the ground for a kissing and rolling match- it doesn’t generally go over well, so leave that part to the dog- a hug can sometimes be the best gift of all.
A grape. So benign. Frozen, so delicious. Dehydrated, so raisin-y. And in large quantities in dogs, the unassuming grape goes Breaking Bad and becomes a killer. Da da duuuuum…. so let’s talk toxic foods for a minute.
When my friend Lili Chin over at Doggie Drawings asked if I would look over a poster she was designing of toxic foods for canines, I was so excited, because her drawings rock and I couldn’t wait to see how she interpreted “bulb of garlic.” The idea was to create a simple, cute piece about toxic foods for dogs, and she wanted my thoughts.
As soon as I looked at the list, I realized this would be a challenge, because toxicity is not always linear. Sometimes a dog eats a bag of grapes and is fine and other times a dog eats one bite of pork fried rice and dies of pancreatitis. Sometimes only portions of a fruit are toxic and other parts are fine. Sometimes there are at least three variables that must be calculated before you know if a food was ingested at a toxic amount (chocolate, for example.)
There is a reason this poster does not have in-depth detail about toxicity doses, etc. Determining toxic likelihood on a case-by-case basis is exactly what veterinarians are for, so if you swear up and down onions have made your dog’s life better don’t email me complaining, talk to your vet and go forward in peace. Consider this a lighthearted PSA that you can do with what you will.
At the end of the day, the world will always be improved by more of Lili’s drawings. Macadamias packing heat will NEVER go out of style.
Source: Lili Chin, DoggieDrawings.net
What this is: a cute graphic with limited specifics intended to share knowledge about foods that might cause a problem for your dog, so that you can discuss it with your veterinarian if you are concerned.
What this is not: An exhaustive treatise with toxic dose approximations, a prediction of your dog’s demise if he eats a piece of cheese, an academic piece in a peer reviewed journal, a substitute for your vet’s opinion.
Remember that Staples back to school commercial, the one where the dad was riding a cart around the store to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?” That was me.
The sad, dejected faces dragging around behind him? Not my kids. They like school.
Brody, on the other hand…Brody is sad. He’s lost his summertime playmates to the double whammy of school, plus homework and extracurricular activities. Having me around is OK, but it’s not the same as the kids. And if your dog is anything like mine, he too may be in the doldrums this autumn.
I’m doing what I can- walks when I’m home, extra attention, but it doesn’t negate the fact that he had lots of people around all summer and now he doesn’t. So I turn to the next best thing: distraction. Putting his breakfast in a busy ball, that sort of thing. We’re watching his calories lately, but being mindful of how to compensate his regular food for the addition of a treat here and there I can also work in the occasional mind occupying treat.
In honor of Back to School time and bored dogs everywhere, I’m doing a giveaway this week from Purina Busy, full of all sorts of treats to get your dog’s mind off his downtime. Extra treats = extra walks, win-win for you both.
An embroidered bag filled with all the goodies you see above: Purina Busy treats for your dog in bunches of flavors, water for you, and poop bags for that walk you just promised you’d do when you get home from school. That should get you through football season, at the least.
You can enter by leaving a comment, tweeting, and/or liking the pawcurious page on Facebook. Details are in the widget below. Due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is US only. Good luck! Giveaway ends on September 11th.
It says right there on my FAQ that I don’t do book reviews. Not because I don’t like doing it, but because approximately two seconds after the review book arrives I start to get emails: “didyougetitdidyoulikeitwhensthereview” from the publishing house interns whose job it is to do things like that. Which is completely fine, except for the fact that I don’t read very quickly and I just couldn’t handle the pressure.
I will do book reviews, just as long as no one cares when I get around to it. Which brings me to this rare moment: telling you about two books I like enough to have read and now share. (Neither author, by the by, requested a review, so take heart that I really just actually wanted to share these with you.)
Both books revolve around dog safety, which with the Fourth of July coming around is very apropos.
Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas is better known round these parts as “The Preventive Vet“, because as a vet with a strong background in emergency medicine he strongly believes in- wait for it- preventive care. For all those people who continue to be convinced vets are all about the buck, I present to you an ER vet who is now spending his days trying to keep your pet out of the ER.
What I love: Dr. Nicholas distills a world of information into 101 easily digestible bite sized paragraphs (ha), organized by topic: digestive, toxic, traumatic, etc. The tips are written in a way that emphasizes not only what the problem is, but how to prevent it. Also: Dr. Nicholas is donating 5% of book proceeds to charity.
Who else loves it: Andrea Arden, Dr Ann Hoenhaus, Dr. Karl Jandrey.
Bottom line: If this book makes it into every new puppy pack and gift basket, I’ll be a happy camper. A perfect ‘how to’ manual to keeping your pets safe.
Author: I met pet safety expert Melanie Monteiro last week when we were working on a piece for Sleepypod about car harness safety (and boy, talk about scary stuff there!) I asked her how she ended up in that line of work, and she told me after trip after trip to the ER while working as a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, she was inspired to learn more on the topic. Now that she’s mastered the field she teaches pet first aid and disaster response to pet owners.
What I love: Melanie talked to some of the best veterinarians in the field to research this book, and it shows. There’s not a page that doesn’t provide excellent, accurate information on how to recognize an emergency, and easy to follow first aid instructions. Also: easy to use index, beautiful color photographs, and spiral binding so it can lie flat while you’re looking up the well diagrammed safe restraint techniques. Oh, and the Boston on the cover doesn’t hurt either.
Who else loves it: VPI, Ellen Degeneres, Dean Koontz.
Bottom line: A thorough, easy to use, and beautiful book that provides life saving information as well as very helpful graphs, diagrams, and photos. I’ve never seen a reference book this usable.
Where to buy: Currently on sale at Amazon for $8.00.
Though the topics are the same, the approaches are very different and complement each other well. I debated offering them as a giveaway but after reading them I decided you will have to pry them out of my cold dead hands. Better yet, come to my house where they live side by side in harmony on my bookshelf, flip through them, and go buy your own.
If you have other must read summer books, please do let me know in the comments.
It’s generally accepted that of all the controversial people food trends out there, the paleo/raw/low carb/low fat rules of ingestion, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, which at its core is this: don’t eat so much processed food, and don’t eat so much food in general.
Agreed, and you can certainly extrapolate this to pets too. However, with over 50% of US pets overweight or obese- a condition with definite and real consequences- I’m more concerned with the latter than the former when it comes to pets. If you prepare your pet’s food, you’ll be bored with this post. If you don’t, and need a little help, read on.
I feed Brody commercial food, so I won’t judge you for doing the same.
Despite knowing home-prepared foods made from your own organic farmer’s market basket provides the most close-to-nature ingredients, it’s a struggle to do this consistently for our human kids, never mind the pets. So most of us* feed our pets out of a bag and beat ourselves up over it. And that’s where clever marketers get you in the feels: we go into the pet store with this vague and disquieting sense of guilt that oh god I’m feeding my pet processed kibble and I’m a bad dog owner therefore I will compensate by buying the absolute best processed kibble I can afford. (Which, by the way, is my own personal approach, so I’m not knocking it.)
As you all know, dissecting thorny nutritional questions could fill a whole book, so this post is limited to current marketing trends. There are plenty of buzzwords out there designed to convince you that this or that new food is the healthiest one, the most wolf-like, light years ahead of all the other ones. But do these trends really mean anything? Based on what I’ve seen hitting the shelves this past year, here are my own personal Food Rules I keep in mind when shopping.
Food Rules for Dogs**
1. The term “natural” doesn’t tell you much.
In AAFCO terms, natural pet foods only means nothing chemically synthesized (except vitamins.) The word natural does not imply better (cyanide is natural!), or even minimal processing. Natural pet food can still be processed and rendered and full of chicken feet from China. Don’t buy a food just based on that word without actually reading the label.
2. Dogs aren’t wolves, they’re dogs.
The venerable journal Nature recently published a study comparing the wolf’s ability to digest starch with a dog’s ability to do the same, which Dr. Huston sums up nicely here. To sum up the summary: dogs evolved to hang around and scrounge off of us, and in doing so changed both their anatomy and their digestive enzymes to better digest carbs like the omnivores they follow around. Which leads me to my next point:
3. Most dogs don’t need a low carb diet.
The general consensus amongst those who know a ton about these things, like DVM/PhD nutritionists who run Iditarods with performance dogs such as Dr. Arleigh Reynolds (he spoke at a great BlogPaws session), is this: performance dogs may benefit from the additional protein and/or fats in low carb foods. For the average dog, the extra calories just tend to make them fatter.
Don’t you look smart.
4. Most dogs don’t need a grain free diet either.
If you want to go grain free for your dog, it won’t hurt them. But ask yourself: why? People usually assume grain free diets are better for dogs based on one of a few ideas: grains are covered in glutens and glutens are bad; or grains are carbs and carbs are bad.
Gluten free diets are all over the place these days because of the incidence of celiac disease, a real and devastating condition in people. But with the exception of one subset of Irish setters, it doesn’t occur in dogs.
Is grain free = low carb? Not necessarily. Potatoes, a common grain free source of carbs, have a higher glycemic index than brown rice and are all over the place in grain free dog diets. Besides, dogs are fine with carbs (see 3.)
Or do you think your dog is allergic to grain?
5. Most dogs aren’t allergic to grains.
Of all cases of allergies in dogs, food allergies only comprise 10% of them. And of those food allergic dogs, the 5 most commonly diagnosed allergies are: beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, and fish. Are grain allergies possible? Yes. Likely? No. If you’re feeding a grain free beef formula because you think your dog is allergic to wheat, consider a food trial to confirm your suspicions.
6. There is no one ideal food for your dog.
Anyone who says ‘this and only this brand/line is all that will ever be appropriate’ is lying. There are always options (even prescription diets are usually available from multiple manufacturers), and unless your dog has a specific medical condition you’re treating with diet I encourage people to try different foods and see what works best. As I’ve said before, I rotate foods all the time. If you try the most pricey food in the store and your dog gains 15 pounds, starts flaking off greasy dandruff, or starts pooping 6 times a day, who cares what the bag or the guy in the apron stocking shelves said? Do what works for you.
7. If your dog’s overweight, get that sorted out before worrying about corn and byproduct meal.
I’m not certain exactly what so many people think corn is going to do to their dog, but they are certain it’s going to do something bad so prescription weight loss food is out of the question for their 115 pound Akita who can barely walk. Then they put the dog down when both knees go out. This is a true story from my clinic, which happened after 6 months of begging the owner to put the dog on a diet, any diet, corn or no.
Don’t focus so much on what might happen that you miss the real danger happening right in front of you.
Koa lost 12 pounds (non diet food, just portion control) after we adopted her and was all the happier for it.
Got your own pet rules? And should I do a cat one?
*If you’re one of those uncommon home cooking owners, awesome for you. That is not said sarcastically. I know it takes a lot of work. And if you’re a raw feeder, I accept that you have researched it and know what you’re doing and disagree with feeding kibble. Go forward and BARF and peace be with you.
** See *. I’m talking to the rest of the crowd.
This winter marked my third trip to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, and while I’ve learned a great deal more about dog shows over that time (mostly due to the instruction of my friend Susi Szeremy over at DogKnobit), I think it’s fair to say that I’m still mostly clueless about that world.
Which is fine, since I’ll never show a dog; I just need enough knowledge to be able to watch. I know a bit about the point system and the actual play by play of showing a dog, like how you’re supposed to run around and not let the dog bite anyone, but other mysteries still eluded me.
1. Why do female handlers preferentially flock to what I can only describe as mother of the bride suits? And if the idea is to minimize the floofiness of a puffy skirt by sticking with a straight skirt, are power sheaths an acceptable substitute? (Please say yes. Claire Underwood’s wardrobe on House of Cards is straight up amazing.)
Don’t even get me started on the sequins.
2. Are flats REALLY necessary? (Yes, they are.)
3. At which point do you stop brushing your dog and figure this is as good as it gets? (Never, in some breeds.)
4. Is the world as cutthroat and intense as the depiction in Best in Show? (There were a few busy bees around, yes.)
So with all the infinite wisdom that comes after drinking a little too much cabernet in the hotel bar, Susi and I decided, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be great if we made a video of us at the show with all these world class handlers? And Susi (who is an experienced handler of Pulik) goes in there and messes up all the other breeds? And I go in there and don’t know anything at ALL?” I wonder, we thought, how these rockstars of the show dog world would react.
I don’t know enough about the dog show world to know that the scene I did with Jimmy Moses- a world class handler of German Shepherds- was the equivalent of a kamikaze mission, like sending in pizza delivery guy into the cockpit with Captain Sullenberger and saying, “Lemme have the control, just for a second, it’s cool.” The results were pretty equivocal, I’d say.
His choicest critiques didn’t make it on camera, by the way. I enjoyed the benefits of a thorough wardrobe commentary, which I was expecting having deliberately gone way off course, but he was very, um, thorough.
But in all seriousness, all of the handlers in the shot were such incredibly great sports, and I can’t tell you how gracious they were in taking time out of their packed schedules to indulge us in this. It was a ton of fun. And of all the scenes, Susi with the bloodhound takes the cake.
It’s not what you think it is, but if you listen carefully you will note the word “testicles” does come into play.
When I first began practice as a veterinarian, it took all of about three months before I got tossed out on my own. This was not by choice, mind you. My clinic had opened up a satellite office and sent my ‘mentor’ over to staff the place, leaving me at the main clinic with a couple other part time vets. To be frank, I was glad to have a break from the guy. He was a nightmare. Within one week the entire staff at the new clinic threatened mutiny if they were forced to work with the vet in question one more day, so off I went to be a solo practitioner, an agreement that, had I known what I was getting myself into, I would never have agreed to.
Trial by fire: a tale as old as time. And the outcome is usually the same no matter what, a sort of horrified bemusement in retrospect, the realization that That Never Should Have Happened, and a great relief that you survived. Or in this case, my patients. My patients all survived.
Granted, I have a bad habit of rushing into things by myself without the benefit of guidance, mentorship, or advice. That’s how I would up in vet school in the first place, and that worked out ok. That’s how I ended up hiking to a 14K foot peak in Africa with a group of strangers and 0 camping experience. I’ve decided that being the overly cautious risk aversive type that I am, when faced with adequate information, the only way to take a chance in life is to go in with inadequate information- I call it the “too stupid to know better” approach- and hope for the best.
I realize that this often results in people dying. But for now, it’s working for me.
It was in this spirit that I decided to take my new mountain bike out for a spin yesterday. I needed the exercise. We live in an area with a nice bike trail loop. I’ve done spin classes for a while. How hard could it be?
As I circled the driveway six or seven times with my shiny new wheels practicing gear changes, it occurred to me that there was a good chance I would end up pushing my bike back home with either a flat tire or a broken ankle, but it was a risk I was willing to take, because I’m not quite sure who would have the patience to walk a novice through bicycling in the first place.
I learned many things out on the trail this sunny morning.
“Steep” is relative. When pedaling is involved, “gentle incline” = steep.
Taking Brody along in our current condition would be a suicide mission.
I am so glad no one was following me with a cameraphone. Because that scene was ugly.
I spent a good amount of time huffing, puffing, cursing, and screaming at branches I mistook for rattlesnakes as I skidded by them. By some miracle I emerged, dusty and unscathed, 50 minutes later having covered probably a mile or so of San Diego’s finest amateur trails.
I spoke about my misadventures with a friend today, whose husband is into mountain biking. She told me he bought her a $1500 bike and took her to a flat lake area, where he proceeded to chastise her bad form for so long he eventually left her behind as she sat on the curb, crying. She hasn’t ridden it since. That is a perfect analogy for many of my colleagues who have since left the veterinary profession, convinced of their insurmountable inadequacy. Sometimes it’s better to muddle through as you go without the benefit of knowing how badly you are doing.
So far I’ve done a ridiculous amount of things the wrong way- raising kids, writing about vet life even though vets aren’t supposed to blog (“Conventional Wisdom 2008” in action), mixing white wine with red meat, you name it, I’ve messed it up. That being said, constructing life without an instruction manual has been immensely rewarding for me, so I guess I’ll just keep on soldiering on and seeing what happens. Though I do suspect I would benefit from a tire repair kit somewhere along the way.
Friday, 11:30 am. I’m wandering the halls of the Orlando Convention Center as it’s gearing up for this weekend’s Celebrate Dogs event. I’ve already been there since Wednesday, working on a couple of projects before the main event, but now I’m just wrapping up interviews with Beatrice and Lambchop, otherwise known as:
Stella on Modern Family;
and Yakult on Suburgatory:
I was really happy to get the chance to meet these celebrity dogs up close and personal. This is the first year the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship has expanded into the full fledged Celebrate Dogs event, a full tilt weekend of activities of which the dog show is just one component, and I was very much looking forward to seeing the dock dogs, Meet the Breeds, check out the Olate Dogs from America’s Got Talent, so I was in a good mood.
And I remember this very clearly, standing on the side of the ring right after this happy picture was taken, and being suddenly overwhelmed with a longing to call home. I missed my children in a way that was sudden and immediate, and I remembered thinking it was strange I felt so compelled to do that right then, in the middle of a busy day. I called them at my parents’ house, talked for a few minutes, and hung up, still feeling disconcerted.
A few minutes later I ran into Jen Borke from Eukanuba, who apologized for being distracted. “You’ve heard about the shooting, right?” she said, and I hadn’t.
I spent a good 45 minutes reading the story about the tragedy in Newtown online, before realizing I had to stop or else I would just break down. I thought of my first grader’s classroom, the little faces I said goodbye to on Tuesday when I left, and I just couldn’t stop crying. There’s nothing you can do in these situations, of course, other than hold your loved ones close- but they were on the other side of the country, and I was in Orlando for the next three days, acutely aware in that moment of just how lonely you can feel when you don’t have someone to hug and it’s the only thing in the world you need.
I spent a good part of the next few days immersed in dogs, submerged, really, watching the way their owners would look into their eyes, or how they would lay a paw on their person when they weren’t getting enough pets.
I needed to see love.
I needed to see the casual ease with which a dog would sidle up to their loved one.
The soulful gaze of one who sees in front of them that who they love best.
I needed to see genuine happiness untouched by grief. All of us humans were putting on a brave face but everyone was muted, the strain of what we were hearing wearing on the collective consciousness, shadowy and grey.
So instead of going and doing what I would normally do, collect lots of information about breed history and ask questions about coat or temperament, I went in search of expressions of love.
I placed hands on fur and gave pet after pet, as if I were trying to absorb some of their contentment through my pores.
I was not alone in this.
There is something utterly comforting about being around dogs, isn’t there? A dog at ease will put you at ease.
If I couldn’t be at home, this was the next best place to be.
Many kinds of dogs, show dogs and pet dogs and mixed breeds and purebreds.
One of the little perks of doing what I do happens at Christmastime, when I get to go on Fox 5′s local morning show with the Rancho Coastal Humane Society and present “A Dog’s Holiday Wishlist.” I don’t have the video downloaded yet, but I’m working on it because it’s really silly but also just fun. I’m with the anchor while each adoptable pet goes up to Santa. They (and by they, I mean one of the producers or camera guys behind the scenes talking in a goofy voice) tell Santa what they want for Christmas, and then I describe the product. It’s one way I like to contribute to the local community and some of my favorite pet businesses, by sharing items I know are both useful and safe.
So here’s the scene- I arrive at the station about half an hour before it’s time to go on, and they show me to the green room. The humane society has yet to arrive. Now last year, they actually sent their director – tall, thin, and young- along to play Santa, and I was expecting the same this time.
A couple of minutes later, as I’m getting a drink, in walk two adorable young girls wearing Make-a-Wish t-shirts. A moment later, I hear a “HO HO HO!” and in strides the most glorious Santa I have seen in my life, and considering the age of my kids, I’ve seen quite a few. He is attended by two delightful elves and a small coterie of PR agents. Santa sits with the girls and starts to talk to them, and he is mesmerizing. He’s so mesmerizing that station employees are walking in to take pictures with him, grown men and women.
He sees me eyeing them jealously from across the room and asks me if I would like to take a picture with Santa too, and of course, I say yes, because now I’m caught up in the moment too.
As it turns out, I have just met the official Santa from the Macy’s National Santa Tour, you know, THE SANTA from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? I’ll admit it. I was starstruck. There is some small part of me that believes, though I can’t substantiate this, that he might have been the actual guy from the North Pole. I had a bit of a moment.
It made it easy to not be nervous, because I was too busy fighting my inner child whispering “No, that REALLY IS SANTA” and my amazement at how wonderful and composed this beautiful young girl from Make-a-Wish was to really be worried about my bit.
“The dogs are here,” chirped the producer. “Santa, are you up for helping with a dog segment?”
“Sure!” he said, grabbing his stomach- no, really, he did- and ho-ho-hoing some more. And then I got even MORE excited because now I’m going to be doing my bit with the BEST SANTA EVER.
It was around this time that I noticed a woman, about my age, sitting quietly in the corner. She asked me a question about my curling iron and we chatted for a minute, then I asked her if she, too, was here for the Make a Wish segment.
She pursed her lips, looked furtively around, and scooted closer.
“No,” she said in hushed tones. “I’m a sex therapist.” She looked up to make sure the kids weren’t within earshot. “I didn’t know they were going to be putting my holiday sex tips on after a Make-a-Wish segment. I feel kind of weird about this.”
And as if on cue, who materialized from the other side of the room but the jolly old elf himself, unaware of the conversation we had just been having in quiet voices.
“HO HO HO!” he boomed, “Would you like a button?” And then he hands us both little pins that say something like, “I’m on the good list!” so the sex therapist takes one, murmuring “thank you Santa” and I just about died.
Then I went on, and the segment went great- all the dogs were perfect and I didn’t mispronounce anything. I had thought they would just finish up Santa’s work and do the Make-a-Wish segment next, but wouldn’t you know it, they decided to break it up a little, so this poor woman had to go on the air with her own special happy holiday tips while Santa and his young charges sat behind the cameras just out of sight.
I’m sure Santa’s pretty open minded. I doubt he minded that much.
I saw his tricked out tour bus on the way out too. Beats that old sleigh, I’ll wager.
I live for this kind of stuff.
And just because, “You sit on a throne of lies” has been my favorite quote all this month and I felt the need to share.
It’s been a long time since I’ve needed a baby monitor. Not that long, mind you, but long enough that technology has apparently been soaring by me in leaps and bounds since the year I slept with static-y radio by my side.
When I was asked by Next Step Baby monitors if I wanted to review their cameras to see what my dogs were up to while I was gone, I agreed, because oddly enough- and this never ever happens- my husband had JUST SAID “We really need a baby monitor or something to figure out once and for all which dog is being bad here”. I had just discovered that all the treat-stealing, all the counter surfacing and bread ingesting and pantry raiding I had pegged on Brody, was in fact the fault of one Kekoa. It was a mind blowing moment for me, realizing she had been tricking me all along, but the proof was in the chocolately vomit.
It was her all along.
I was also pretty sure that when the dogs got left home alone and started howling, that Koa was the one who started it, because it was a bad habit she has indulged in her whole life, and Brody- well, he’s until recently always been the quiet one. This was about to become really, super important, since we were taking Brody into an apartment where implacable howling was likely to be frowned upon (though now that I know how flipping loud our upstairs neighbors are, I wouldn’t mind subjecting them to a little BAROOOOO ing now and then. But I digress.)
So here we are, in an apartment with a dog, and very nervous about whether or not his inherited howling behavior would continue without his enabler. And as luck would have it, we just received the NextStepIP Pro, and I tasked my husband with keeping an eye on Brody while we were gone.
The camera uses wifi and is easy to move wherever it needs to be. With wide range of motion, you can tilt the camera to find your pet if you suspect they are engaging in problem behaviors. And- to me this is the best part- you can not only watch the camera from your phone or PC, you can control it remotely too.
We had the NextStep sitting by our front door, waiting to see if Brody would start howling. My husband had the audio running at work so he could listen for errant howls. Generally with separation anxiety, the most pronounced behavior happens soon after departure, but it’s helpful to know the exact triggers so you can address them through behavior modification.
In our case, apparently, the trigger was Koa.
This is how Brody spends his time when we are gone:
Screen resolution has come a long way since 2004.
Busted, on multimedia platforms. But it’s QUIET couch crashing, and that peace of mind is very, very valuable.
At $150, it’s a great price for the amount of versatility you get. The Next Step IP, which also allows you the ability to observe and control with a mobile device, starts at $119. We were also very happy with the customer service who helped us walk through the setup. If you are struggling with a dog on the potential naughty list, this may be just the ticket for you.
Speaking of that, I will definitely be using this in the new house with Koa. Do you have any idea how much of her bad behavior I’ve blamed on poor Brody over the years? Talk about dogshaming.
Happy Holidays! I’ve been lucky enough to attend both Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo this year, skulking about the aisles in search of my favorite pet items of the year, and fortunately for us there was plenty to choose from. I’ve teamed up with the pet enthusiasts at Blog Paws to bring you some suggestions from the BlogPaws Great Gifts for Pets Holiday Gift Guide. (The guide in its entirety is viewable at the Blog Paws site.) Here are some of my favorites for under our tree, which if fate and the banks smile upon us will be up at OUR NEW HOUSE about two days before Christmas!
1. Soggy Doggy
I can tell you from personal experience that wet Golden + hardwood = bruised tailbone. Not fun. The Soggy Doggy Doormat® is made from millions of textured, ultrafine strands woven together to create “noodles” that absorb 5x more water than regular cotton doormats! The durable, microfiber chenille doormat has a non-skid backing, and is odor-free and super quick-drying. It’s so velvety-soft that it works as a travel bed and crate-liner too. Plus, the product is available in a variety of colors and sizes to compliment any home’s interior. From $39.99-$84.99, the Soggy Doggy Doormat can be purchased at www.SoggyDoggyDoormat.com.
2. FURminator deShedding Tool Vacuum Accessory
For the millions of pet owners who simply love their FURminator deShedding tools, here is great news: FURminator now has a vacuum accessory that fits on to your tool for a faster and cleaner pet grooming session. Compatible with small, medium and large size FURminator deShedding tools for dogs and cats, the new product features two removable heads to adjust tool size, and two attachments to fit most vacuum brands.
FURminate and… ZIP… the fur is in the vacuum.
The Furminator Vacuum Accessory retails for $19.99. FURminator products are sold at pet specialty stores, professional pet groomers, veterinary practices and rescue organizations, and are also available online at www.FURminator.com.
3. Cool Blue Dog Hoodies
Just in time for the cooler temperatures that come with winter, dog owners of shorthaired, smushed-faced breeds can take comfort that Cool Blue Dog Apparel has got them covered, literally! Cool Blue Dog Apparel just launched their new hip hoodie line which will be perfect for keeping our Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs and other hard to fit breeds warm, comfortable and in style! Click here to see them now: http://www.coolbluedog.com/products-page/hoodies/.
These hoodies retail for $56-$58. And though they are marketed for your favorite broad chested brachycephalic breed, I see no reason why you couldn’t put your longer nosed barrel chested dog into one of them if hoodies strike your fancy.
4. PetHub ID Tag
The holidays are a prime time for pets to get lost, with all the hubbub and travel of the busy season. Give your pet the gift of reassurance. Each PetHub QR tag links to a comprehensive pet profile that includes multiple contacts, critical medical information and more. Every tag includes a 24/7 Found Pet Hotline number, where operators are available around the clock to help lost pets get home fast. PetHub’s Premium Services include Instant Email Notifications w/GPS Mapping, a nation-wide Shelter Alert System & $3000 of Emergency Medical Insurance.
This holiday season, PetHub is offering a FREE Limited Edition Holiday QR tag with every new or renewed Premium Subscription (you also have the option of a FREE basic tag instead). And, as a special exclusive offer to readers, PetHub is offering 25% off all Premium Subscriptions. Use code HOLIDAYBLOG25. For more information, visit PetHub.com.
5. Thundershirt for Dogs and Cats
As festive and fun as the holiday season can be, it can cause many pets to suffer from severe anxiety and stress. No one likes to come home to a trashed tree or 15 unwrapped presents chewed up all over the rug. Thundershirt can help. With its patent-protected design, the Thundershirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect that has already helped tens of thousands of dogs with anxiety problems. The product is also used and recommended by vets and trainers worldwide. Anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones.
For a limited time, the company is offering a FREE personalized stocking and a squeaky toy for holiday purchases! Simply use code GIFT12 at checkout and be sure to type the name you want embroidered in the “Gift Notes” box. Retail price starts at $39.99.
OK, this one made me squee. You know how I feel about cake pops. Bubba Rose dog cake pops are made from a pumpkin and molasses cake ball (similar in texture to biscotti) on an edible peanut butter and carob “stick”.
Husband and wife team, Jessica and Eric Talley, are founders of the internationally known Bubba Rose Biscuit Company, located in Boonton, New Jersey, dedicated to providing healthy, preservative-free dog treats; made with organic and natural ingredients and free of wheat, corn and soy. All treats are handmade in small batches in their bakery in NJ using locally sourced ingredients from the U.S. Bubba Rose only uses local cage-free eggs, free-range meats with no added hormones or antibiotics and never any chemicals, artificial flavors, colors or fillers. A portion of every sale goes towards animal rescue.
These can be purchased at www.bubbarose.com and in hundreds of fine pet boutiques around the country.
Retail price: $13.99
I think I know what someone is getting this year!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. While BlogPaws compensated me for sharing these cool gifts with you, I retained the right to pick and/or reject items I would not personally recommend.
We, the collective animal loving internet, have done a great job of telling people to “Adopt, Don’t Shop.” We do it so much that people say it without thinking, assume without asking, and demand without discourse. Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely support the concept, and this is why I am here writing a post today in honor of Petside’s Pet Net Adoption Week. It’s why I’ve adopted lots of pets over the years. But this is only half the equation.
We tell people they should adopt, and why they should adopt, and then do nothing to support people during the transition. Here’s the reality: pets do get returned to shelters and the rescues, usually for reasons that could have been avoided with a little owner education and preparation. In the rush to get pets out into homes, we sometimes neglect to make sure those homes are ready and willing to take on the challenges, which are rewarding beyond measure once you get past them- as long as you know they are coming.
1. Be honest with adopters about the pet’s behavioral issues that need to be worked on.
Nuke, the 10 year old coonhound I adopted from UC Davis, was a moderately neurotic agoraphobic hound dog who had never been housetrained. Translation: I left him outside when I was gone, as the well meaning person at the school had recommended, only to have him howl inconsolably because he was scared of being outdoors. I got a notice from the neighbors within 36 hours.
6 months, three adopted pets: for a vet student, pretty typical.
I wouldn’t say crate training an elderly, set in his ways dog was an easy task, but I did it, only because I had access to professionals who reassured me that with patience, it was possible. He never did learn to sit on command, but he ended up housetrained, and we had three lovely years together before he passed away.
Koa has terrible separation anxiety that leads her to howl like a banshee- one currently in a state of torture- when she is left alone. It’s why she was returned to the rescue twice. Unfortunately I didn’t know this until I got home and reviewed the paperwork in detail and found the note from the previous owner. Luckily, I can keep her inside where she doesn’t bother anyone, and I have Thundershirts and all that good stuff.
We make do. But some people couldn’t in that situation, and it’s better to give them fair warning and let them find the right pet for them than to make them return a pet later, which is stressful for everyone- and might even turn them off rescue entirely. Some people can’t handle a cat who sprays or a dog who doesn’t like other dogs, and that is part and parcel of having a pet, yes, but this is also a great opportunity for us: all pets have their quirks. The difference between a puppy and a senior is that with the senior, those quirks are known ahead of time, and for that I am grateful.
2. Put all dogs, no matter the age, in an obedience class.
Some rescue dogs will have had oodles of training. Most haven’t. Regardless of their age or training status, a basic adult obedience course is the perfect way for new owners and pets to get to know one another better, work through their kinks under the care of a professional, and most importantly, develop a clear understanding of each other’s place in the developing relationship.
Nuke was a sweet dog, but in 8 weeks he never did learn how to sit. He just wouldn’t do it. He wasn’t motivated by anything. Needless to say, he never learned down, either. No matter. We had a structured hour each week to work on his socialization, his manners, and for him to learn to trust me. It was worth every dime.
3. Remind new owners to be patient.
I have yet to take a rescued pet home and NOT have a day when I seriously regretted it. It happens. The dog eats something expensive. The cat has diarrhea in your shoe. You discover your new pet hates all men with grey beards and baseball caps, which just happens to be 85% of your neighborhood. The key is to acknowledge that these bumps are normal and expected and to provide support for owners to work through them, rather than just give up.
Here’s the good news: that regret is always gone within a few days, once I have a plan in place for dealing with whatever it is that was frustrating me. And the only regret I have now is that my husband won’t let me go our and adopt just one more.
This post is part of Petside.com’s 5th Pet Net Adoption Event. Petside will be donating $5000 to a shelter in one lucky community in honor of the event- click the link for details! Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post.