Friday, December 22, 2006

Storytime - Mariah

Mariah is our beautiful female french bulldog. She is still young, is a year old and has just completed her first heat. She knows that she is solidly loved and has a special place with us, but she's starting to test her boundaries to see just how special she is. She decided to get into a fight with another female and they both got crated for a while.

Mariah didn't like that idea very well. Although she has been crated for sleeping from time to time, and she will voluntarily sleep in it when open, she hasn't had to spend much time in a time-out situation. When I had taken care of a few things and was going to let the dogs out in a supervised setting, Mariah charged the door, demanding it be opened RIGHT NOW. So I used the "back" command and she finally acquiesced and sat back, only to charge the door every time I lifted my hand. I didn't yell, I didn't show any heightened emotion, just simply had her back away from the door so I could open it. At one point she got so mad that I wasn't doing what she wanted me to, that she jumped up high on all four paws, shook her head and snorted at me, all at the same time. I held my ground and wasn't going to open the crate until she backed away from the door and was in a calm state. Finally, in exasperation, she THREW her body to the floor of the crate and rolled on her back, exaggerating her submissiveness. I laughed and she got to come out and behaved much better with the other dog.

Bad Food for Dogs

Bad foods for dogs
Please check out this list of bad foods for dogs to help keep our canine companions safe:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gator & the Dog Psychic

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIn December of 2005, we went to the Cleveland pet show where I met Doris Straka, an animal communicator. She told me the cutest story of a dalmation and we had a wonderful conversation. I wanted to bring a dog back over but time wouldn't allow. So this year, you can imagine my excitement when she was at the same dog show and she had an opening!

Here is some of Gator's background - he was bred by one of the top frenchie breeders in the US who live in Louisiana. He had been sold to a family who later returned him to get a female. He lived with the breeders until Hurricane Katrina hit in the fall of 2005. When the storm was approaching, they sent their pets to be in the care of their handler in Houston to attempt to keep them safe. Later, they returned home, and he flew up to us in December of 2005, still a little shaken and a bit unbalanced from all he'd been through, but overall a great dog.

In talking with Doris, he had quite a few things to say on many subjects.

Hurricane: He never called it a hurricane, but referred to quite a few things that happened "during quarantine." He said there were lots of animals there, dogs, cats, birds. There was a cockatiel that screamed and screamed and no one could get any rest. Gaqtor was very stressed and missed his people. Everyone was stressed - there was a group of people that cared for the animals and they were in a constant state of stress during that time. But they were always kind, always had the animals' best interests at heart, and where some people would have lost their temper and became aggressive, they did not. There was a woman there who had grey hair down to her shoulders and she, in particular, felt for the animals. She felt for them so deeply that she threw up. Gator said all the animals really liked her and his group wanted to take her home with them, but they couldn't. Gator is also a daddy - he and one of the females at the quarantine hooked. He said it was a one-night stand and she was gone before the puppies were born. Also, there was a larger dog (st. bernard, or maybe a bernese mountain dog - something with that coloring) who was very sad and lonely. Gator wants to find out if that dog is ok now. He wants to send out a "hello, I'm doing good now - how are you?" to him.

Handler's house: At one point he started to describe a room where there were some crates, some stacked on each other. And he said it was really cool - like a dormitory where they just all hung out together. But sometimes they would put a blanket over the crates and they weren't allowed to talk to each other. (That would be when our little man got his bulldog, wanna fight attitude going.)

Cooter: I asked if she could explain to him that it wasn't necessary to argue with Cooter, our male pug, that there was no need to compete. Gator simply responded he didn't consider Cooter much competition, anyway (he evidently forgot about the times when Cooter won the fight hands-down). I explained that the female pugs were for Cooter and the female frenchie was for him. This resulted in a long conversation with the communicator about how he wasn't snobby. Lineage and pedigree didn't matter to him - as long as the legs were short enough, that was good enough for him. He even made the comment that he'll be a stud until he's neutered. To this, Doris explained that there are other things to do like agility, obedience, and rally. Gator thought that agility might be fun, but the others might require him to pay too much attention. They didn't sound like as much fun.

Health: I mentioned to Doris that we are trying to get him to put on some more weight. She recommended slightly cooked chicken and chicken livers (beef livers only if they're organic). And a combo vitamin A & D. A would cleanse the liver and D would follow through and help to heal. She said all this before I told her that we suspected some liver issues (also confirmed by a holistic vet). In fact, when Doris looked through his body, she said that his liver is a little more pink (or did she say a lighter pink?) than it should be. It's not like he's in danger, but some things to help it cleanse and heal all the way will be beneficial to him. Other than that, she said he was in great shape. She said that his structure was good, his bones were good, and that between his structure and his temperament, she felt that his bloodlines should be continued. This surprised me because she certainly didn't have to say something like that just to be polite. She truly loved Gator's personality (he had her laughing on several occassions) and she thought that a lesser dog would not have recovered from the hurricane as well as he did.

Food: I asked him not to snap at puppies anymore. He had been so good around them, always patient, playing with them, that one day when I let him out of his crate, I was surprised when moments later he snapped at one at the food bowl and caused some damage. I was shocked and I reprimanded him, but in my heart, I knew that he didn't intentionally hurt him - it was just that he caught the puppy just right. And Doris verified this. She said the whole situation traumatized Gator - he truly did not mean to hurt that puppy. His stomach was tight and when he came out of the crate to eat, he was just so hungry that he snapped. Doris explained that he can't snap at the babies, they don't mean any harm. They had quite a conversation about it and Doris assured him that he wasn't going to starve, we will always have food for him and he never has to worry about the puppies eating all of it. After quite a bit of go-around, Gator finally acquiesced and said ok, the food at the bottom of the bowl is better, anyway. This mysterious comment was solved when Patrick, the handler, explained that he would put a bit of potted meat on the bottom of Gator's bowl when he fed him. I also asked if he likes the food I feed him at home. Yes, but there was something called the yummies that he likes, but that hurts his stomach as it goes through. Yogurt?? Yes! Yogurt.. he loves it, and the beneficial bacteria is good for him, but it takes 3 times the amount of stomach acid to process dairy, and adult dogs just don't handle it well. She said to put his supplements in oatmeal or chicken broth, but no more yogurt, cottage cheese, or other dairy for the dogs unless it's cheese made from non-pasteurized milk. She said maybe a small amount once a month since he loves the flavor so much, but it's giving him a tummy ache.

Being a show dog: Although he certainly seems to enjoy the ring, it's always good to know for sure. We want them to be not only successful, but happy. He said that he likes dog shows. He likes them because there are so many different types of people. It turns out our little man is quite a people-watcher. We amuse him. He said that it's funny to watch the new people who are tense and under stress and then watch the more experieced and calm been-there-done-that people.

All in all, he's a happy dog who takes everything in stride. He is sure he's the bomb-diggity! He is enjoying life and could we ask for anything more?

Dogs & Chocolate

In a recent forum discussion, chocolate was brought up when a person's dog raided the Christmas M&M stash on the coffee table. We all have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs. A relative's lab shed some extra light on the topic. I'm not a vet, but here is how it was explained to us. The lab, Scarlett, had been boarded in a kennel where she contracted an illness that permanentaly affected her liver. Her vet said that it was very important that she never eat chocolate. According to him, the canine body does not have a way to eliminate chocolate from the system. The liver filters it out, and it continues to build in the liver and over time can cause damage. Because her liver was already damaged, it was important not to stress it further.
Revisiting the topic also reminds me of our own personal experience with chocolate. While Christmas shopping, I bought a pound of creme drops - you know the ones, wonderful white fluffy filling coated wtih chocolate. While in the next store shopping, my companion springer found the package of creme drops and when I returned to my car, I opened the door and the empty bag fell out at my feet. All the way home, she moaned and when we got home, she continued to complain loudly. Her eyes seemed dialated to me, so I called the emergency vet who said I need to induce vomiting by taking an eye-dropper full of hydrogen peroxide and squirting it at the back of her throat.
Well, we did this... nothing. I'm trying to remember all the things that would make me throw up when I was sick. A full stomach usually seemed to expel easier when it all kind of sat at the top. So I had her drink water. She drank and drank and drank. Another dose of hydrogen peroxide, nothing. I lifted her back legs over her front legs. Nothing. Sat on the floor in front of her and made whorfing sounds - nothing. Walked her outside, no good. Had her drink more water and had her run up and down the stairs - nothing. Another dose of hydrogen peroxide. You guessed - nothing. What else could I possibly do?
She was still moaning from her favorite spot in the house - in the middle of a big, neon pink bean bag chair. She LOVED that chair. So I picked up the chair, with her in the middle of it, and I spun around and around in circles, as fast as I could stand to until I couldn't anymore. As I clumsily sat the bean bag chair down, she stumbled out of it, and walked lopsided out the front door and barfed in the front yard.
So in case any of you find yourselves in a vomit-inducing situation this holiday season, maybe it will help to know what worked for us :)

Storytime - Petunia

We brought in a long folding buffet table to the kitchen for Thanksgiving to help with cooking & prep space. Well, it's still sitting there, and for the moment is accumulating folded, clean laundry. The other day I had a stack of blankets and Petunia, ever the opportunist, took advantage of a nearby chair and chose the top of the pile of blankets as her napping spot. In doing so, she made the corner of the red blanket move. Mariah, unable to see Petunia on her throne from the floor, just saw the blanket moving of its own accord and barked at it all night long, even after we chased away Petunia and explained it to Mariah. Nope, she's sure it's still alive. She has stopped barking, but she still stares at it suspisciously. Tonight I'll have time to clean up and get everything put away.

Barkbusters advice for the holidays

Englewood, Colo. – 'Tis the season for all things merry, but festivities can frustrate our furry friends – or even worse. Bark Busters USA, the world's largest dog training company, today released its 12 Holiday Tips to help keep the family dog safe and happy for the holidays. "The holiday season introduces our pets to a great deal of chaos, at least from their perspective," said Liam Crowe, master dog therapist and COO of Bark Busters USA. "Unfortunately for dogs, the festivities of the season introduce a host of new stimuli – sights, sounds, and smells – that can disrupt their routines and potentially present dangerous circumstances. However, following a few tips can make the holiday season a bright one for everyone – including the family dog."
A tired dog is a good dog. Before guests arrive for holiday festivities, walk your dog or play fetch to help your pup relieve excess energy. A 1-2 mile walk or 30 minutes of playing fetch will generally result in your dog taking a nap, just as guests arrive.
Prevent holiday decoration disasters. When decorating your Christmas tree, consider anchoring it to the ceiling or wall to prevent the tree from tipping. It is also wise to hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree. This will help prevent potential disaster from an inquisitive canine or an over-active tail-wagger, which can wipe out an entire limb of precious ornaments.
Tinsel Town can land your pup in the emergency room. Tinsel is new and exciting to dogs. Unfortunately, if they eat the tinsel, it can twist in their intestines and cause serious problems. It is best to use it sparingly or not at all.
Evergreens are not always for everyone, especially a curious canine. Christmas trees are wonderful traditions, but they can lead to several problems if you have a curious canine. Don't let your dog drink the water from the base of the Christmas tree since this water often contains chemicals to help the tree last longer. If ingested by your dog, the water can cause severe indigestion. Even pinesap and pine needles can cause health problems. Plan to regularly sweep fallen pine needles to avoid a trip to the emergency animal clinic. If ingested, they can puncture holes in your pet's intestine.
Holiday sweets are not dog treats. Chocolates, cookies, cakes and peppermints are only a few of the sweets we treat ourselves to during the holidays. Unfortunately, these "treats," especially chocolate, can hurt your dog and may trigger life-threatening illnesses.
Make no bone about it. Cooked turkey and chicken bones are not for dogs. These types of bones are thin and can easily break causing choking or bone shards to get stuck in your dog's gums. It is best to stick with compressed rawhides or other bones specifically designed for dogs to chew.
Mistletoe is for kissing – not eating! Keep your pets away from mistletoe as well as amaryllis, which are both toxic if ingested by your dog. Theory has it that poinsettias are also considered poisonous, but they are not life threatening to dogs. However, these plants are dangerous if ingested by your cat.
Keep the liquids flowing! When pets are stressed, they typically pant more, so keep fresh water readily available for them to drink.
'Tis the season to give, so add your pet to your list. The holidays can be chaotic – not just for you, but for your dogs as well. To help them stay occupied and out of the holiday decorations give them their own gifts. The Buster Cube, for instance, is nearly indestructible and will distract your dogs for long periods of time – perfect to keep them busy during your holiday parties!
Do not give pets as a surprise gift! Many people choose to give cute and cuddly puppies as gifts during the holidays. Unfortunately, many recipients aren't thrilled with having a puppy that quickly grows into an adult dog. As a result, many of "holiday gifts" end up at animal shelters. It is not uncommon for parents to give their children puppies as gifts. While this is not necessarily considered a "surprise" to everyone in the household, parents must recognize a dog takes a real commitment of time. The parents and children must be ready to participate in training and managing the responsibility of their new family member. Instead of giving a dog as a gift, consider giving a leash, collar, or dog training certificate from Bark Busters. With the gift, include a note saying a dog comes with it, but the recipient gets to pick it out. This will help ensure the lucky person receives the dog he or she wishes to have as part of the family.
How low can the weather go? Frequently, owners put their dogs outside to get them out of the way when guests arrive for holiday festivities. Responsible pet owners need to be aware of the temperature, since it can quickly plummet in the winter. Additionally, if you live in an area that gets snow, keep your pets close to home and do not let them roam freely. Roads can be icy making it hard for cars to stop if your dog wanders into the street.
Blowing snow is best left in the globe. Did you know that many snow globes contain antifreeze? Antifreeze is extremely toxic to dogs. You may not know exactly what grandma's antique snow globe contains, so it is best to keep it (and all antifreeze) out of the reach of a happy, tail-wagging dog. If your dog does happen to knock over the snow globe, send him out of the room while you clean up the liquid. Dilute the spot with water and floor cleaner to make sure your dog does not lick harmful chemicals later.

HSUS Reminders about buying a Christmas puppy

FROM HSUS - Who doesn't melt when they see adorable puppies with red bows tied around them leaping about in a pet store window? In December, holiday shoppers find them so irresistible that they are eager to pay top dollar to surprise someone on Christmas morning with a cuddly pup under the tree. Buyer beware says The Humane Society of the United States.
According to Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for companion animals at The HSUS, "The puppy-under-the-tree scenario has a great image but the reality is not always as warm and fuzzy as we'd like to imagine. A dog is a precious purchase that will be in someone's life for an average of 15 years, so it should not be an impulse buy. And for consumers who insist on buying a dog as a gift, they should never -- under any circumstance -- buy one from a pet store where most of the 'inventory' come from puppy mills and you just might end up giving the gift of a very sick or dying animal."
She recommends the following holiday gift-giving tips for consumers wanting to give a healthy, happy dog as a gift:
Be practical: Consider giving a gift certificate covering the adoption fee at a local shelter, rather than choosing a dog for someone else. Wrap the certificate with a dog bowl and toys so there is something to unwrap. "Not as cute as a live puppy, but a much more thoughtful decision for the animal and the recipient." It is best to let the recipient pick out the dog they connect with, rather than you picking out the one that you connect with.
Do your research: Does the recipient have the time to exercise a dog daily? Are they ready for the expense of vet bills and any emergencies that will come up? Do they have time to train a dog? How do they feel about dog hair on the furniture?
Where to start: Once you determine that you want to give the gift of an animal for the holidays, shelters are the best place to start. One of four shelter dogs is a purebred, and adopting from a shelter will save you hundreds of dollars, and save a life.
Alternatives: No luck at the shelter but still want to buy a puppy as a gift? Number one tip, according to Shain, "Find a reputable breeder. A responsible breeder will NEVER sell a puppy to someone who they have not personally met. No one should purchase a dog without physically visiting where the puppy was born and raised. Pet stores and online dealers will tell you what you want to hear to move that puppy out and stock the cage with another."
Beware: Most dogs sold in pet stores – and via the internet -- come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are mass breeding facilities where dogs are crowded into cages and puppies are churned out with little regard to their health or to sound breeding practices. Mills often hide behind the "legitimacy" of a neighborhood pet store. The worst gift you can ever give is the puppy who looks fine when you pick her out at the store, then "crashes" after a day or two. "Your gift will end up costing the recipient thousands of dollars, not to mention Christmas heartbreak. It happens way too often around the holidays."
Free guide: To make this process easier for anyone looking to buy a dog, and for free information on adopting, rescuing or finding a reputable breeder, check out the new brochure "Puppy Buyer's Guide" from The HSUS. Visit or send your request to HSUS - Puppy Buyers Guide 2100 L St., NW Washington, DC 20037.

Spay/Neuter Clinic - Rascal Unit

As part of the local government, we wanted to be proactive in helping our citizens find an affordable means of vaccinating and altering their pets to help with our rabies and animal population issues. We found a wonderful solution in the form of the Rascal Unit ( We brought in the unit for a Wellness Clinic in November and for a day-long altering clinic on December 2, 2006. The entire program was fantastic. The vet is a wonderful, caring vet, her team is very talented, and the surgeries went very well. The response from the community was tremendous and almost everyone has asked when they might be back.
As others who might be watching this blog know, there are special concerns when treating brachycephalics. I'm happy to report that 5 pugs and a boxer went under anesthesia and all did very well. The vet volunteered information to me about appropriate procedures for brachycephalics during our wellness clinic which put me much more at ease booking them into the surgery schedule. Two of the pugs were pups we had raised, so you know how high my confidence level was to allow them to work on our babies.

Congratulations Gator & Patrick!

Congratulations to Gator and his handler, Patrick, for the first blue ribbon he's received at the 10-28-06 Delaware dog show!!

Rescues & Kennel Cough

One day in early July I stopped by the local humane society. The woman behind the desk was almost in tears. They had confiscated a pit bull puppy that was abused with firecrackers and run over by a truck. Amazingly, the resilient puppy had no broken bones, and they had nursed him to health and were waiting for a rescue group to take him. When it came time, the group didn't have enough room and turned him down. The girl had spent the better part of the day contacting other rescue groups, knowing that if she didn't find him a home soon, chances were good that he would never be given an opportunity in life. She finally found one, but he needed a home for 2 weeks before they could pick him up.
At first I said no, I have puppies at home. But then who could say no to a puppy who had been through so much? So I explained I have an unused outdoor kennel and as long as I picked him up from the vet's from neutering, he was welcome to stay there; it was the best I could do. He came to our home and was a very sweet boy. However, 3 days later his kennel cough kicked in.
Our dogs are vaccinated for kennel cough (bordatella), but through this experience I found that the vaccine covers 3 of the worst strains and that there are 52 strains out there, so it's still very easy to contract. In my research, I also found out that unless it settles deep into the chest and they appear to be sick, that it is best to let the illness run its course. Most of the dogs got a hacking that sounded similar to a cat coughing up a furball the firts day, then coughing for 1-4 days after that, tapering down to nothing. In this time, their attitudes were still good, they were playful and cheerful, just dealing with a hack or cough. One of them, though, had issues with it. He couldn't get a good cough, like he couldn't get enough air in to actually hack it back out. And he became reclusive and depressed, hanging his ears and trying to go outside and hide under the bushes. We got him into the vet as soon as they had an opening and they said he was just shy of pneumonia and we went through a round of antibiotics which did the trick.
Sometimes a dog will contract it and be rushed into the vet who will administer antibiotics for a normal cough. In general, if they are handling it well, they are better off fighting it and allowing the immunity to build. The immunity will last for a year against the same strain.
Unfortunately, the strain we had slowly worked its way through the dogs and I was afraid that the puppies would be exposed and/or contract it, so I kept them a few extra weeks. The good news is that they never got it! Evidently mom's colustrum was stronger! We kept them through their second set of shots, when they finally allowed us to also give the bordatella vaccine. It was important to us that they not get a cough, and if they did, that they weren't given a round of antibiotics unless it was necessary. I'm so glad it wasn't necessary. They are a group of strong, happy puppies with great dispositions.
We had lessons learned. I found some great homeopathic remedies for the cough. I don't regret helping save the puppy's life, but I'll definitely stay out of the humane society while I have little ones at home!