Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Rescued a Human Today

I'm sorry I don't know the name of the person who wrote this.  I've gotten this story from two or three friends in emails over the past few years and it brings a smile and a tear every time I read it.  


Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.  I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.  I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.  I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today.  Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past.  I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.  I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.  Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.  Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.  I would promise to keep her safe..  I would promise to always be by her side.  I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes..  I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.  So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.  So many more to be saved.  At least I could save one. 


I rescued a human today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

Andie eating dirt and roots in the woods.
Do your dogs ever eat dirt or other "weird" stuff?  Mine do.  Why do dogs eat dirt?  I did a search on Google to see what kinds of information were available.

One article on Squidoo offered several possible explanations.  But when I considered my dogs' behavior, I'm not sure I agree with any of them:  Pica, Hunger, Mineral Deficiency, Health Concerns and other Abnormal Behavior were all described.

Pica is simply the ingestion or eating of non-food materials and substances.  Over the years, I've noticed that my dogs are "particular" about the dirt they eat.  They always choose areas where there is a lot of rich, decaying matter ... especially where there are roots.  So I've always believed that they were supplementing their diet with whatever minerals or other nutrients are found in this type of soil.

Another explanation offered was simple hunger.  This was applied to dogs who don't get enough to eat (strays and neglected dogs), or dogs who are only fed once a day.  I feed my dogs twice a day, plus they get daily treats.  While my dogs aren't fat and definitely aren't obese, my vet sometimes gives me "the look" after weighing them during an exam.  This "look" means I need to watch their caloric intake ... that they are on their way to being slightly overweight.   oops .....

"Health concerns" was another possibility, namely digestive issues.  In other words, the dog isn't able to properly absorb the nutrients from its food.  While I can't know for sure if my dogs are digesting their food properly, I've added digestive enzymes to their food at every feeding for years.

I had to chuckle at the next explanation:  "Eating dirt is also a way by which the dog can gain the owner's attention. These are sensitive creatures that would crave human companionship especially when there are no other pets in the home."  Not only do I share my life with 5 dogs, but I adore them all and no one could ever say they are not getting enough attention.

Sammi waits his turn as Ripley eats all the good stuff.
The last explanation offered seemed to be the most likely in my case ... that dogs eat dirt to make up for vitamin and mineral deficiencies in their food.  Although I buy "premium" dog food, it is likely that certain nutrients are missing.  

I would love to be able to afford to feed my dogs a completely natural, raw and organic diet.  I know that the vast majority of "over the counter" dog foods lack sufficient Omega 3 oils; for years, I have added Cod liver oil, a very affordable source of Omega 3s, to their daily feedings to help make up for this.

Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Chicken & Oats 2 lbs
The most affordable raw diet I've come across is from
Only Natural Pet Store.  I started feeding it to my
dogs once a day in March 2013 and have been very happy with
the results... my dogs love it and my pickiest, Sammi,
has shown an overall increase in improved appetite
even when he gets regular, dry food.
Just click on the photo to learn more about
"Easy Raw" dog food from Only Natural Pet Store.

There are multiple benefits of fish oil:  adding it to your dog's food may prevent and cure skin allergies.  My dog, Brittany (R.I.P), suffered from severe "itchies" every summer.  But once I started to give her fish oil ... every day, 365 days a year ... she never displayed allergy symptoms again for the rest of her life.  I started giving her fish oil when she was about 8-years-old ... she lived to the ripe old age of 15.

Another benefit of fish oil (Omega 3's) is a shiny, healthy coat.  If a dog's skin is healthy, so will her coat.  All of my dogs have soft, silky coats that are a pleasure to touch.

And just like for humans, fish oil is good for your dog's heart and brain function.

Andie had to get a few extra bites.

So, was my question answered?  Why do dogs eat dirt?   ... well, maybe it's just because they LIKE dirt!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thinking About Adopting a Pit Bull?

Despite having the qualities that we most love in dogs ... loyalty, sweetness, affection, and a generally happy disposition ... Pit Bull Terriers and their cousins (I hate the term "bully breed") are often overlooked when it comes to adding a new member to the family.  And while they are gentle and loving in nature, they are too often portrayed as being viciously unpredictable and dangerous.

If you're thinking about adopting a Pit Bull or similar breed, it's so very important that you educate yourself about all aspects and characteristics of these dogs.  Despite their sweet, friendly nature, they are probably not a good choice for many people, especially first-time dog guardians.  This is true for any dog, however; too many dogs end up in shelters because they were "so cute as puppies."  But once they become adults, they're not as cute and may not fit in well with your lifestyle.

I'm not an expert on Pitties, aka Pibbles, so am not writing this from that perspective.  There are lots of great sources online, if you want to learn more about them.  But I do want to introduce you to one very special Pibble ... Ruby! ...

My rescue group pulled this sweet girl from our local pound after her human disowned her.  She had obviously been well cared for and loved, and was well socialized.  But because of her breed, it's been a challenge finding her a new, loving home.

To keep her balanced, socialized and as happy as possible while waiting for her new home, I've been taking her out of the boarding facility where she's staying temporarily, as often as possible. 

During our latest outing, we stopped off for some ice cream.  Ruby was very polite and loved her special treat ...

"Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos."
                ~Don Kardong

Despite her excitement over the ice cream, Ruby continued to be the perfect angel.  When I pulled the cone away from her, she sat patiently waiting to see if she'd get another few licks. 

And of course, I indulged her .....

Next on the agenda, I wanted to let Ruby run, sniff and explore.  She isn't getting enough exercise at the boarding facility ... she's only about one year old and, like all Pitties, she's a very strong, athletic dog.  So I took her to a large, fenced yard where she got to just be a dog for a while .....

Ruby is a bit taller than the average female Pittie and weighs right around 50 pounds.  Her brindle coat is very striking. 

.... She's beautiful, isn't she?

Despite being cooped up most of her days at the boarding facility, rather than explore the yard on her own, Ruby preferred to stay by my side for most of her visit.

It's pretty obvious that her heart's desire is simply to have a human to love.  Even though she doesn't see me every day, she bonded with me very quickly.  Whenever I got up to walk around the yard, Ruby walked right by my side.  She wandered and sniffed a bit, but always looked to see where I was and never strayed more than a few yards away. 

You can see from her bald belly, that Ruby was spayed recently.  She'd had all vaccinations, but hasn't been microchipped yet.  Other than that, this girl is R.E.A.D.Y. to love and be loved!

I got LOTS of Pibble kisses .....

Fortunately, Ruby has good doggie breath.  :-)

It was a really nice Spring day.  Ruby and I relaxed and enjoyed the view and each other's company ....

"Dogs are a link to paradise ... to sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring.  It was peace."  

~Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being                                                    

As we sat and relaxed, we got a little visitor.
Ruby rushed to investigate ......

Oops! ...... killed by curiosity.
Nope.  Still not moving.

Apparently, spider-killing services are an added bonus.  Included free with your adoption fee!

Update:  Ruby is no longer available for adoption, but I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please visit my rescue's Facebook page.  We're the Circle of Life Animal Rescue Society (COLARS) ... COLARS on Facebook  Please Don't Shop!  ADOPT instead!

And please don't litter ... S.N.Y.F.F. instead!  (Spay/Neuter Your Furry Friends)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Should I Feed My Dog a Raw Diet?

My oldest pooch, Ripley, is almost 14 years old.  Despite her age, were it not for her severe and aggressive arthritis, she'd still be active and happy and would probably live for several more years.

But since she was about 5 years old, she's had arthritis in her spine and back legs.  If you've read some of my other posts, you may remember that she had back surgery in 2010 and has had fluid injections in her knees. (If you'd like to know more about Ripley and what a special being she is, read my blog post, One Man's Trash is Another (Wo)man's Treasure.)

Despite the surgery, injections, joint supplements, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, her condition has gotten worse rather quickly.  She's showing more and more signs that her condition will soon render her immobile and in unbearable pain. 

One of those signs is her lack of interest in food.  For the past few months, I've been fretting over the fact that Ripley no longer wants to eat dog food. No matter what I tried, she turned away from it. She is so stubborn, she'll go days (literally) without eating anything but a couple of bites a day.

About a week ago, I bought some dehydrated, raw dog food from Only Natural Pet Store.  Ripley LOVES it. Is it more expensive than dry, processed dog food? Yes and no. It depends on what you already feed your dog. Like super premium dog food, your dog needs less to thrive than with cheaper brands.

(Get $10 off orders of $30 PLUS Free Shipping on orders of $79 or more. Use coupon AF10BUCKS through 5/31/2014. New Customers Only.)

Most American dog owners don't, and have never considered, a raw diet for their dogs.  Honestly, it sounds a bit gross and unappealing.  But that's just because we're humans, not dogs.  While looking around for some kind of food that Ripley might like, I started researching raw food diets.  I was worried about bacteria and other food-borne pests and diseases.  Is a raw diet safe?  One article I read is on Only Natural Pet Store's website; I'll share some of it below:

"Diet is the foundation of health. The fresher the diet, the more nutrients are available for the animal's system to utilize in building immunity, healing from illness and warding off disease. Raw food diets have been shown to help the body deal with many common ailments such as flea infestations, hot spots, continual shedding, poor dental & gum health, allergies, gastro-intestinal problems such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, immune disorders and degenerative diseases. 

"Raw diets have been common practice in European countries for decades, especially Germany, where it is commonly recommended by veterinarians. The fear of feeding raw meat in this country seems to stem from a fear of salmonella, E. coli and parasites. In over 10 years of feeding raw food and seeing countless animals on raw food diets in my practice, salmonella and E. coli have not been seen to be a problem. Remember, pets' digestive systems are designed to accommodate raw meat. Parasites could be contracted through eating wild, whole prey or game meats, but is much less likely to occur with properly handled human grade meats. Infection is more likely to occur through a pet's ingestion of feces or soil, or from poorly handled meat."

If you'd like to learn more about feeding your dog a raw diet you can read All About Raw Food on Only Natural Pet Store's website.  The article includes results from a long term study on raw food for cats conducted by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD; introducing a raw diet to your pet; affordable alternatives to fresh or frozen raw food; and more valuable information. 

I've only been feeding Ripley the raw food for about a week, but so far I'm impressed with it.  She eats with gusto again and the food is very easy to prepare.  You just add water to the dehydrated mixture of meat, grains, fruits and vegetables and let it soak for 30 minutes or more, then serve.  You can prepare up to four days food in advance and store it in the frig.  Or, like me, you can prepare each meal individually.  After she's done eating a meal, I wash the bowl and mix her next meal in water and then let it soak in the refrigerator until about an hour before her next meal.

After the mixture soaks in water for a while, it looks and smells very appetizing.  You can see the carrots, cabbage, oats and meat very clearly and it smells like chicken soup.  (The Only Natural brand has 3 flavors and there are several other brands of dehydrated food on Only Natural's site as well.  Click the link just below to go to Only Natural Pet Store's website.)

I bought a 2 pound bag of  Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Chicken & Oats 2 lbs just to try it, and with the serving size Ripley's getting, it should last me close to 2 weeks.

Anyway, if you have a REALLY finicky, stubborn (spoiled) dog who won't eat regular dog food, or you want to incorporate some raw food into your dog's diet, give it a try. 

I've been a customer of Only Natural Pet for a couple of years now. They ship fast and are true to their guarantees. They always have something on sale.  If you've never shopped from them before, you can Get $10 off orders of $30 PLUS Free Shipping on orders of $79 or more. Use coupon AF10BUCKS through 5/31/2014. New Customers Only.

OR ... look in the upper right-hand column ... there's a link for 20% off your order during their Spring Sale (good through May 31, 2014).