Monday, December 27, 2010

max and ruffy's tasty treats

Taste the rainbow of doggie biscuits!

I had to hold off on reviewing these delicious treats because of Ellie's strict diet. Sienna wanted them but it was cruel to taunt Ellie. Well Chris and I decided that we'd let Ellie have some buckwheat (she hadn't been having it before), so she could indulge in some Max and Ruffy's. The pups have had them before when their auntie mailed them some straight from Alexandria.

The humans should love these treats because they are al natural and cruelty-free (no animal products). Many of the kinds are good for pups with allergies. The flavors sound a little odd like kelp and blueberry, but I can assure you even picky Ellie (who is becoming a bit less picky) loved them.
 The biscuits come in mini size for training or in larger size. A handful of them makes a good snack for when dinner's running late or a fun dessert for pups.
 The only thing I guess we wish is that none of them had wheat in them at all since I'm allergic and Ellie might be too. But we understand that not everyone is.

Thank you so much for sending us these treats to review Max and Ruffy's! You made some pups very happy!
I have been making some videos of the I just have to get my act together to upload them. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 24, 2010

how to get coal for christmas (by sienna)

I do not recommend trying this at home! One day my mom and dad went out. Mom had left something in a box that smelled good. Like peanut butter. I opened it up and it was lots of yummy stuff! I ripped it all up and ate most of it.

Mom and dad came home and they were so worried. Turns out I am not supposed to eat that stuff because it's toxic to dogs. It tasted so good! It was chocolate. I ate all but the spicy one. It was a lethal dose so I had to go to the ER vet and get a shot to vomit. I puked up lakes of chocolate. Then I was out of the woods.

I had to get charcoal in my belly but I refused to take it and the vet tech got it all over her and my fur. Then they brought me out to the waiting room and I drooled all over mom and a guy who was in the waiting room. And I barfed on mom's coat and pants. I finally got discharged.

Luckily I am ok now. It sure was hard work but I had a fun time, well at least before the barfing part. Mom says I am on Santa's naughty list but I already got coal so I can get a toy now too.

Happy Holidays everyone! love sienna
Merry Christmas from Ellie too. First Christmas in her new home!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Dog Year

We just watched A Dog Year with Jeff Bridges and an amazing border collie actor. I haven't read the book. I could related to a lot of the movie. The crazy dog antics for one. They are guaranteed to make me laugh but they are not so funny when you are in the midst of it. Dog running out the door and dragging me on the leash? That's Ellie. Chewed up house? That was (and sometimes still is) Sienna.

And of course the sad part. Luckily they get the sad part out of the way early in the film when one of the older dogs died. It hit a nerve of course because he had heart problems and hip issues just like my Zuki. Always so sad to see them go. But it wasn't the main part of the film fortunately.

I could also relate personally because I am sort of in a confusing part of my life just like the author/main character. Focusing on my dogs has helped give me life some focus too. Like one of the grief counselors said at my therapy session for pet loss, I am good at giving my animals structure and meet their needs but not as good at giving myself that. But I am good at learning lessons from my dogs.

I also liked the message the trainer said to the man. He was the problem, not the dog. Don't blame the dog if she or he is not "behaving" as you would like them to. We live in a world with a lot of rules and it's up to us to find a way to communicate those rules to the dogs in a compassionate way.

Rating: 3 out of 5 paws

Thursday, December 9, 2010

baths, bears, and biscuits

Poor Ellie had to get a bath for her itchy skin. I helped a little at first but she's still pretty itchy and not signing up for another bath anytime soon.

On a plus side, her post-bathed body looks more bear-cub like.
real bar cub
 Typically she has more Van Buren type mutton chops on her cheeks that I think are cute.

martin van buren

You can sort of see the chops in this picture.

In other news we've been making homemade food for her. Which we used to do back before I was in graduate school. Ellie is on a restricted diet to see if it helps her skin. I haven't seen any grand results but she did cheat with Sienna's food once (we were using up the kibble with Sienna).

I also wanted to make some treats that were OK for her new diet. Basically they had to only have quinoa, lentils, squash, liquid smoke, and salt. We also used Vegedog vitamin powder.
The first attempt I used equal parts squash and quinoa flour. Too soft. 
 Then I reduce to only 1/4 squash to 1 part quinoa flour, and the vitamin powder and liquid smoke (to make it taste/smell meaty). Still too soft. I wanted crunch ones.
  I finally read over the instructions for kibble in Vegedog and talked to Molly from Vegan Dog's Life (who has tons of awesome recipes for dogs on her site and a cookbook too!)  I decided to eliminate the squash and bake longer. These biscuits went quickly! They were very hard and crunchy.
So I repeated the recipe and doubled it this time.

Quinoa Dog Biscuits
2 cups quinoa flour (easily made by grinding quinoa in a grinder or high speed blender)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon salt
optional: a few teaspoons vegedog*
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350. Mix quinoa flour and salt and optional vegedog. Mix water and liquid smoke. Add water to dry ingredients slowly until all flour is wet but not too sticky. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Then bake on parchment paper for 15 minutes at 350. Flip over and bake another 5 minutes. Then cut into small pieces with a pizza cutter. To get biscuits really hard, lower oven to the lowest setting (mine is 170) and bake for about an hour or until firm to touch and does not yield when pressed. Once mine weren't ready and I just turned off the oven and left them in overnight. They were firm in the morning

Let biscuits cool completely before feeding to dog. If your dog is really hungry, put a few in the freezer for about 10 minutes to flash cool them.

*Since I wasn't using this as the main food source, i didn't worry about adding vegedog each time. They get that on their food.

 Sienna and Ellie both love homemade biscuits! The only downside is they think everything coming out of the oven is for them now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"A Dog's Purpose" and the dogs in my life


I recently read A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron on my kindle. I have to say, I was a little intimidated of it because I didn't want to get to sad. It's been a rough year for me, having lost one dog and two cats (Heather and my parent's cat Sami), and I was sure the book would trigger something in me. But yet, sometimes you have to face those emotions.

What I liked about this book is that the main character (whose name changes throughout the book) reincarnates in different dogs after he passes. It is actually a nice way to think about what could happen when a dog dies. It was interesting to see him change in form, location, and have different relationships, with his personality and memories staying with him.

A philosophical pup he was, wondering his purpose in life. This arose after he had an opportunity to be with humans after being stray. I sort of wonder whether that need be a question that dogs really ask. That is a very human-like thing to ascribe a purpose or meaning to things beyond what they just are. I feel that in actuality a dog would accept life at face value. However Bailey (his name for the longest portion of the book) questioned as a human would, and it perhaps made the book more appealing to humans.

Another theme of the book is actually love. And the relationships dogs have with humans. I actually loved reading about his interactions with the other dogs the most. But, having lived with dogs almost all my life, I know a lot about the love between a dog and a human.

Because Bailey took different forms in his lives, I started to think about the different dogs who have come in and out of my life.

The first was Smudge (no picture available), an English Spring Spaniel. He was alive when I was born and died when I was just 4 years old. One of my strongest memories of him is of his burial. So death and dogs is not a foreign concept to me. I was unable to deal with the concept at that age and my baby brother was born just a few months later. It was a chaotic time. Smudge's life in my mind is more from scraps of stories my parents told about him, a wild city-turned-country dog who loved adventure and mischief.

My sister-dog, Nellie, another English Springer Spaniel, was around since I was quite little. There are pictures of her and I when I was but 2 or 3 and she was a wee puppy. She was a wonderful dog. So protective of us, in a quiet way. I remember her just being there. She'd lay at our feet during dinner or watching TV. She took walks with me into the woods and later bike rides into town. She was allowed to do as she pleased, and had a lot of wisdom and strength to her.

When Nellie got old, I was unable to handle it. When she smelled funny I pushed her away and when she had an accident in the house I was repulsed. I was unable to care for her then and was upset with her for getting old. When she was put down, I was already detached from her, but it still hurt.

After Nellie died we still had the cat Daisy, the tabby, who was very independent (the cats in my life deserve their own post, and will get one in due time). Then when she died we adopted Sami, another cat. I had toyed with the idea of another dog but I was living with my parents, very young, and they had resigned themselves to never having a dog again.

About 5 years later, when I found Zuki, the black lab mix it was a surprise. I had wanted a dog in the back of my mind, but never so strongly as that moment I saw him. When we rescued him from the side of the road, he was so full of life and love that it was impossible not to love him. He had a love for people but also adventure. But he was loyal. He'd always prefer us to others, although he basked in their affection, particularly if they offered food.

I could go on about Zuki for ages. I can barely think of him without getting tears in my eyes because our bond was so deep. I relied on him for strength, calm, certainty, and his dependence as well. In many ways I feel he was my "dog soulmate" if such a thing is possible. But I still have more love to give a dog and will not cut my heart off to the species.

Sienna, a pit bull mix, came into my life shortly after Zuki did. She's a spunky little girl who was needy in a way I'd never known another dog to be. You could feel the baggage she carried from her past life before us. Her history as a mother always makes me wonder about what she left behind. She shows such passion to be with others, particularly new people and a lot of playfulness with other dogs, particularly puppies. She is in many ways still a puppy herself, still chewing here and there and getting into the trash.

At 10, Sienna's slowing down a bit but still has so much love in her. She will abandon us for a guest who comes for the night, but most nights cuddles right by my side, a total snuggle bug. Sienna is probably the least dog-like of all the dogs that have come into my life. She stares you right in the eye without blinking. She's a strong dog who knows what she wants.

Ellie, a chow-collie, represents the latest generation of dogs in my life. A new breed, a new personality to get used to. She's very calm indoors (aside from when there's critters on the porch) and very excited outside. She's got a strong instinct to track and chase. My times that I feel closest to her are when I am ready to give her what she wants, like going out. She jumps on me in a hugging type of way. She's not very in tune with us yet, having lived on her own and not relied on humans much, and humans may have been cruel at best. The signs that she is protective, live barking when the someone knocks at the door, show that she does care about us and sees us as a pack.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have had these dogs come into my life. It is so hard that their lives are shorter than humans and we have to say goodbye to them so many times in a human lifetime. But to never have loved a dog would be a shame.

I adopt a dog for the sake of giving them a good home and the care they deserve. Though I hope for an attachment and bond selfishly, because I know how much love can develop between a dog and a human. I don't think it's wrong to want love back. Although the love of dog should not be an excuse to breed more dogs while millions die in shelters.

A dog's love is special, and each dog has his or her own way of showing it. As humans we are often so disconnected from nature, yet dogs can be a connection to the part of the world that isn't about words, culture, or money. They are windows to another way of looking at the world, unburdened in many ways by human fetters.

A Dog's Purpose not only shows the love between dog and human, but appreciates the nature of a dog and celebrates it. And for that it's a great read.

BITT OF PAW RATING: 4 1/2 paws  (out of 5)

PS: Word is the book's being made in to a movie. Sienna and Ellie would love to audition as extras for some "dog park" scenes. Where do I send casting tapes?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

little visitors

 The majority of the time the girls (Sienna and Ellie) are calm inside. Sienna has her moments of crazies where she runs around with toys and throws them everywhere, littering the floor with fluff.

The fact that Ellie is a mellow inside dog is a plus for us, because the memories of Sienna as a pup are still strong. We'd like chewed up furniture and shoes to be a thing of the past.

 But every once in awhile Ellie goes bonkers indoors. It's because of some little animals that tease her from the porch.

I left some sunflower seeds outside the other day, thinking maybe the birds would eat them. Instead a big chubby squirrel came by, and knocked the stash over and made a huge mess. And excited Ellie so much that she whimpered, woofed, and whined.

(Yes that's duct tape on the wood. It's supposed to protect the very soft wood from little claw scratches. More attractive suggestions are welcome.)
 We also get a quite a few kitties coming to the door. Some may be strays but the others are neighborhood cats who are a let out part-time. Foucault has had some nightly window-staring sessions with them, and now Ellie is having her share of stare-downs with them, inducing more whining and whimpering and pacing by the door.
  Can you spot the grey cat?
 I call him half-tail. 
 Foucault also likes to patrol the roof via the balcony. Here he is visible from the skylight.
If we head outside he'll chirp at us to get our attention. Only once did he jump off, in an attempt to hang out with his tabby look-alike from the other apartment. He hasn't tried it since, so I assume it was somewhat traumatic.

Sienna could care less about squirrels or cats, she's more of a bird-chaser if anything. But her favorite thing is finding a dog pal at the park to play chase with. If there are no pals around, a big stick will have to do.
I love how having companion animals helps you see the world in a new way: noticing squirrels and other critters more, and getting to know the neighborhood cats and dogs. Not to mention spotting the good throwing sticks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a few of my favorite things (by sienna)

mangled squirrel

no brains monkey

beheaded teddy bear
no-cheeky monkey
no face lambie
tech support needed cell phone
ripped ear sheep
unpuffed penguin

Sienna really does a number on her toys. But it keeps her out of the trash (for the most part) and stops her from eating our shoes (for the most part). And her teeth are very clean!

Monday, November 15, 2010

why I don't use the words "pet" or "owner"

I've phased the word "pet" out of my vocabulary for a few reasons. Fundamentally, I want animals to be seen in a more respectful way. Using the term "pet" can connotate a lower status, and a lack of respect. Does this mean animals are the same as humans? No, of course they have different needs and desires.

I prefer the term "companion animal" to describe dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, and any animal that is domesticated and has historically lived with humans. At this point, they are no longer wild and would probably not survive on their own. They have been bred to rely on humans for food, shelter, care, and warmth. We have an obligation to care for the animals that have been domesticated, and an obligation to work on cat and dog overpopulation by spaying and neutering our companion animals.

Many people who use the term "pet" often have a strong bond and love for their companion animal. They care for them as thoughtfully and with as much love as they would a human child. However there are others who use the term and have a "just a pet" mentality, and ascribe lesser worth to the animal. Using the term companion animal helps show the level of respect that you feel and animals deserve.

In addition, the term "owner" is disrespectful to our companion animals. Legally, it still be their status, but it implies animals are a piece of property, not a live being. When animals are viewed as property, people use this as an excuse for abuse and mistreatment. Using the term "guardian" in place of "owner" implies a more respectful relationship. It also will hopefully help people take a more vested interest in continuing to care for their companion animal versus abandoning him or her at a shelter.

For more information on this topic, please see In Defense of Animals' Guardian Campaign.