Happy Howloween

>> Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yesterday we went to the Petsmart Howloween parade and costume contest. It was SO much fun and a great learning experience for our pups. Alan brought home the little brochure about it, so we dressed up all of the pups and headed over. Walter wasn't too keen on being dressed up, but once we got to the store he was a big ham and enjoyed being fawned over by all of the people there. Any time we bring him somewhere, we are bombarded with questions. One of the store associates actually ran up to me and said, "Hey! Your dog's leg is stuck in his costume!" I explained to her that it was stuck like that for good and she seemed relieved that I wasn't dragging him around with his leg stuck in his clothes.

All of the pups wore matching bandanas in different colors along with their costumes. Walter was a football player: a "wide retriever" as his shirt said. We wanted to dress him as the auto mechanic, but he was too big to fit into that costume. He wore a red bandana to match his jersey. Reagan ended up being the auto mechanic with her green bandana, and Quincy was a bumble bee and wore a turquoise bandana. Of course we gather a lot of attention when we take them anywhere, and they were the biggest dogs that were dressed up. All of the other dogs were little dogs, and many of the people were just letting their little dogs lunge at our big ones, which was kind of frustrating.

The first
part of the festivities was getting their picture taken. Walter wasn't cooperating because he was too busy looking at me, while Reagan and Quincy got their pictures taken together. Finally, Walter sat in front of the backdrop by himself. I think I made the associates mad because I said Walter was on the dumb side. It was not an insult, but he is just a stubborn Chow mix and does his own thing most of the time. Oh well...he knows how much we love him!
print the pictures there and then we bought some frames that go with them. The frames even glow in the dark! I don't like Halloween, but these are pretty cute (really bad cell phone shot).

After they got their
pictures taken, it was time for the parade. We had to wait a few minutes for it to start, and a woman who works at a rescue was in the store, and she had seen Walter over the summer when I was in. She was shocked at how different he is now, and how well he was doing.

When the
parade started, we were second in line. Walter had a good speed going, until Quincy decided to....eliminate...in the middle of the parade. It was just falling out, no squatting or anything (sorry this is disgusting...I hate bathroom talk and I'm trying to be delicate). Luckily, nobody stepped in it and it was an easy clean up. Because of this, we did not finish the parade around the store!

Finally, it was time for the costume contest. There were some really cute dogs there, and even a miniature
pig dressed as a jester! Another lady had the smallest dog I've ever seen in person. A teacup doodle poodle designer dog thing dressed like a devil, and she dressed up in a costume too. I think that dog weighed maybe a pound. There were dogs dressed like moose, a butterfly, a ballerina (which Wembley would have detested, because she was such a princess and wouldn't like the attention given to someone else in pink), and a panda bear. There were maybe twenty or so dogs, and we were the only people with multiples.

For the costume contest everyone gathered around in a circle, and we had to walk down the middle of the aisle, say our dog's name, breed, and what their costume was. We were the only
people with mixed breeds, which I found surprising. When Walter walked down, everyone said "Awwwwwwwww." I mentioned that he wasn't hurt and that we adopted him like that too, because people always think he is injured. When Alan walked down Reagan, everyone laughed that she was an auto mechanic, and Quincy was a big hit with the children in her bee costume. At the end of the walk down the aisle, everyone got a goody bag. They actually gave us one for each of our dogs, which I thought was incredibly generous! We didn't win the costume contest (even though I saw them gesturing at Walter...he must have been a contender), but afterward the associates handed out a bunch of coupons and gave us a bunch since we have so many dogs, which was incredibly nice! The best part is that we can actually use them for the cats too.
The goody bags were also really generous,
packed full of treat samples, more coupons, and even cat treats! We are going to use all of the samples to stuff their stockings at Christmas.

Alan and I were SO
proud of the dogs. Walter is still learning socialization, and Quincy too. Quincy has a tendency to bark and growl at strangers, even children, because she gets scared and nervous easily. Yesterday, besides the little accident, she was on perfect behavior, letting children and adults pet her, without growling or feeling scared. It was a really positive experience for her. Walter also gathered a lot of attention from adults and children alike, and Reagan is always a hit with kids, and she loves them right back.

When we came back home, Alan remarked how he had a blast out with the dogs and I did too. It was just a great family outing and a good o
pportunity for the dogs to interact with others.


Change Foods and Change A Life

>> Friday, October 15, 2010

When Wembley was first diagnosed with cancer, I immediately questioned her dog food. At the time, we were feeding her Science Diet. Like millions of others we were duped into believing this was a quality dog food, since the first vet she ever visited recommended it. There are all sorts of politics involved with veterinarians and Science Diet, but that isn't my intent now. My issue is with the poor quality of their food.

I started reading several resources about dog food, and was horrified when I found out what we had been feeding our dogs all those years. I don't blame Wembley's cancer entirely on Science Diet, but I do believe it was a factor in why she got it at such a young age.

Many dog foods are preserved with BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin. These are chemical antioxidants and Ehtoxyquin is a carcinogen. All three of these have affects on health and interfere with kidney and liver functions (Wembley's cancer started in the liver). Science Diet is one of many foods that uses these preservatives.

These are not the only alarming ingredients found in many dog foods. Food is prepared with fillers to create bulk weights with low cost, and what is suffering is the health of many dogs, cats, and livestock. Dogs thrive on grain free or low grain diets. Reagan used to eat Science Diet Sensitive Stomach because she always had stomach problems.

These are the first three ingredients in Science Diet Sensitive Stomach formula:

Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, and Animal Fat.

Brewers Rice "is the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice."

Corn Gluten meal is "the dried residue from corn". It is actually a corn by-product.

Animal Fat is used for flavor. It is usually rendered meat by-products, which can include:

"spines, hair, hooves, feet, heads, euthanized dogs and cats from veterinarian offices and animal shelters, roadkill, zoo animals, dead animals and those declared unfit for human consumption due to disease and illness are also placed in the mix, pentobarbital, rancid restaurant grease, toxic chemicals and additives."

The last one is especially appalling. Many foods are also sprayed with animal fat to make the food taste better and greasier for dogs. I highly recommend Food Pets Die For by Ann N. Martin to learn more about rendered meat and by-products and what they do to the animals consuming these products. This book really sparked my hardcore research into finding a better dog food for our pups. Dog Food Analysis is a great web resource for looking into what your dog food is rated, or to check out what tops the list of dog foods. It is all about finding what works for your dog too, because if you pick out a holistic dog food, that doesn't mean your dog will immediately take to it. It is best to switch to a new food gradually and see how they do on it.

After heavy, time consuming research and reading, reading, and more reading, we decided to go with Wellness dog food, which is a holistic brand that we get at local, independent pet stores, although PetSmart has started to carry it. This is slightly alarming, because I hope Wellness doesn't change their formulas if there is a higher demand. Other brands that we will feed include Taste of the Wild, Merrick, and Orijen. These are not the only good holistic brands out there. Others include Solid Gold, Wysong, Fromm, Canidae, and Eagle Pack. If you are going to switch foods, I suggest researching what would be best for your dog according to health issues or breed. For example, we feed Reagan the formula with glucosamine because she has hip dysplasia.

It all comes down to knowing what to look for on the label. If you refuse to buy anything for yourself with high fructose corn syrup, you look at the label, right? It's the same thing with dog food. Look for natural ingredients, like beef, chicken, turkey, or duck. If it says "chicken meal" or "turkey meal" that is okay too. All that "meal" means is that it's a combination of clean flesh and does not include bones or feathers. If it is a by-product, it will contain ground up feathers, bones, and more.

Another thing you can do for your dog is to feed raw. I am not well-versed in the raw diet, but it requires a lot of knowledge about what vitamins and minerals are needed to keep your pet healthy. K9 Cuisine has a great list of links on feeding your dog a raw diet. This is something we are hoping to start doing a few times a week, but haven't started yet.

Reagan is a shining example of how switching to holistic foods changed our dogs for the better. Before feeding holistic foods, Reagan was ridden with stomachaches, gas all day long, and allergies. She was always itching and scratching and very, to put it mildly, flatulent! After we switched to Wellness, she lost seven pounds, her coat is smooth, shiny, and healthy, and she only gets a bellyache after she gets into something she shouldn't. Her allergies are virtually GONE. At her yearly check up, our vet said she is healthier than she's ever been in her life. Her coat was so gorgeous that he thought we had just given her a bath, which was not the case! Reagan's nails are growing really quickly these days too, and the vet said this is a sign of good health. I attribute this to changing dog foods and giving our dogs a solid vitamin regiment, which I discussed with the vet.

Now, I realize not everyone can afford to feed their dogs holistic food, and I would rather see a dog eating a less desirable dog food and have a home than be homeless because someone can't pay holistic dog food prices, but if you can, spend a little extra on dog food and get something that is quality. Having three dogs doesn't make this a cheap venture by any means, but we love them and are willing to cut things out of our lives in order to feed them what they deserve. After all, they give us unconditional love and endless amounts of joy, and for that they are worth it.

*The same applies to cat food. Our cats eat a variety of holistic foods including Wellness and Taste of the Wild! We do this so they don't get fussy.


Quincy is Growing Up

>> Monday, October 4, 2010

Quincy celebrated her first birthday on September 10th. It's hard to believe our little pup is already reaching adulthood, but she has proved this so us in many ways since turning the corner to one year.

This summer was a very trying period for us. We essentially had to figure out what this border collie business was all about, and how to be the best parents for her. We haven't experienced the "border collie boredom" that happens, where should would be destructive and destroy things, but she has chewed up some magazines and other paper items when we weren't watching. This of course is a very small thing, but we are still learning how to eliminate these behaviors.

Quincy needs an abundance of exercise. Even after a walk, Quincy just isn't tired. If anything, she is more hyper. Luckily, we have discovered that she has a huge talent for frisbee and is very good at retrieving. This is our way of giving her "jobs", since we clearly don't have any sheep to herd. Quincy leaps into the air and catches the frisbee every single time. Hopefully we can teach her some tricks soon!

Another exciting development is that she is A LOT more receptive to learning. Quincy hasn't been a fast learner, but now she is getting the hang of things. I finally taught her how to beg, and our next trick is going to be teaching her to jump into our arms, which Alan started to work on this weekend.

The best part of seeing our little pup grow up is her personality blossoming. Quincy is the sweetest, kindest little girl, and a major love bug. She's always by my side, loves to give kisses and be held and snuggle. She gives Reagan endless devotion, she plays with the cats, and she adores Walter. Quincy came into our lives at the perfect time, and even though we weren't planning on getting a little border collie mix, I am sure am glad that we did.



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