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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ecostore review: dog conditioner and all purpose cleaner

Since the critters make so many messes around here, I was grateful to have some cleaning products to try out from EcoStore USA.

The first product I used by them was the all purpose cleaner. At $9, not a bad price.

It cleans well, and easily wiped my my smoothie spills, dog cookie crumbs, various cat and dog bodily-fluid messes, and overall freshening up of the house. Keep in mind I always use a natural cleaning product and I am comparing this to your average green eco-friendly cleaner.

The second product I used was the leave-in dog conditioner. I had been eager to find a dog conditioner because I usually use conditioner on Sienna to keep her coat smooth. This is pre-Ellie.
Now that we have a long-hair dog, I felt I could truly put this product to the test. No I did not get Ellie just to test this product, it just worked out that way.

First, Ellie ran away from it because of the spraying sound. She's scared of a lot of things, but she's not the only dog I know who dislikes sprays. People use spray to correct dog behavior so they may come to fear it. Second, I found the smell ok and it to work fairly well but Chris said the smell gave him a headache. The scents are all natural, but still too potent for some. For these reasons I felt the product was not right for us.

Instead I did search for a product that would work given the fears and smell issues. I found Aroma Paws Chemical-Free Fur Conditioning Treatment with Sunscreen. It's 100% vegan and has a blend of avocado oil and other natural oils. This bottle is a pump so it doesn't scare Ellie and it doesn't smell as strong. I was not compensated for a this bottle, but I just felt it was only fair to mention the product that did work for me.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the ecostore products for review purposes. I was not paid for this post.

What are your favorite dog shampoos or pet cleaners?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ellie gets trained

We signed Ellie up for a workshop on leash walking. We opted not to sign her up for a whole 6-session class because she has already learned a lot of what Sienna learned in Basic Manners class, like sit, down, and some other tricks. Her main issues are with walking.

Inside, Ellie is a calm and quiet dog. She doesn't chew anything or make much noise. She sometimes hides under the bed just for quiet or when she's hiding from the comb or toothbrush. But when she goes out, she's a wild dog. She loves to track and chase squirrels and the neighborhood cats.
At the workshop, Ellie was a model student. She followed the cue and even got used to the clicker (she has previously been fearful). But when we tried to take the techiniques home, she didn't show any interest in the treats outside. She heard the clicker, as we clicked when she did something we wanted her to do, to "shape" her behavior, but didn't care for the treat.

Now we know we may have to find a more desirable treat, but she's never shown much interest in treats. It just isn't her thing. She gets used to them and will eat them inside but much prefers chasing squirrels.
At least we are armed with a few ideas now and know that she doesn't hate the clicker. She's responded well to training indoors, so we'll keep up with that and hope something transfers. We also struggle with whether to avoid walking her to the places where there are squirrels, or to just walk her where we know there is grassy area at the nearby park. It's a tough call.

Advice welcome!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Medications that ARE safe for dogs

Going to the vet is the best idea when your dog or cat is sick. But sometimes the condition is such that it is not an emergency and you cannot get an appointment right away. Knowing that there are some medicines that can be used without hurting your dog and might help him or her get through the night or until the next appointment. 

For example, Ellie has some itchy skin and we've tried a few home remedies like adding oil to her food and changing foods to get her off wheat. Her itching has persisted so we tried some Benadryl. It's not enough long-term, but it will tide her over until her appointment on Monday. It helped for me to know that the vet had prescribed Benadryl for Sienna in the past, which was another opinion that matched with this flyer I picked up from The Neighborhood Pharmacy. 

There are plenty of lists of what NOT to give your dog, but not a lot of what TO give your dog. But here's one.

Calling your vet and getting an opinion on this is probably wise. Repeated vomiting and diarrhea can be severe. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's a real emergency or to wait it out, and you can always call the emergency vet near you for advice.