Christmas for the girls was very much like last year. I bought a bunch of stuffed toys (their favorite!) from the Salvation Army. Last year they were .50 each...this year they were $1.00 each. And as cheap as that still was...the Capricorn in me found that irritating. Is there a legit reason for the 100% increase in the price of stuffed toys? Maybe...but they didn't offer any explanation and I didn't bother asking for one. They were very busy changing the rules (yet again) for donations anyway so I had enough to think about.I obtained the required pile of stuffed toys for the girls and called it a day.
Christmas day the pile was poured onto the living room floor and the girls were allowed to 'have their way' with them. One stuffed cat was 'killed' the same day...one other toy was discovered to have the small beads inside so it was eliminated from the bunch. My dogs will eat anything...including small beads and those things are sinister.
I don't have to tell you they enjoyed themselves immensely now do I?
It seems like every time I try using enzymes for my dogs they end up barfing. Bell was fine on them but Nicki couldn't take it. I put them in their food a few times and eventually Nick was barfing. A clear signal that it's not going to work for her and if I can't give it to both of them I'm not going to bother with it at all.
What are enzymes for you ask? (other than to make your dog barf?) Well they are supposed to help the dog digest their food more efficiently. I felt it was worth a try with them because I make all their food. Making your dogs food goes hand in hand with worrying that they aren't getting the right nutrition. (because they are my fuzzy kids)
I have been dead set against most commercial dog foods for some time now...ever since I read a book entitled "Food Pets Die For" by Ann N. Martin. It was a shocking read and after gaining that knowledge I was unable to feed my dogs dog food ever again...or at least not the standard ones.
Commercial animal foods are like the evil cousin of our processed fast food....full of chemicals; the lowest grade of raw product; and in the case of dog food, dead animals. Yes, commercial dog foods are made from dead animals. And I'm not saying just the factory farmed animals (don't get me started on THAT topic) but also domestic pets (flea collars; vaccines; and drugs used to euthanize included); and road kill. You heard me...it's all in there and the companies don't want you to know it.
But the government has control of the situation right? Don't bet on it. There are very little regulations set forth for dog food companies and even fewer people to regulate it. And the regulations set forth are either broad and sweeping in nature or complex and difficult for the layman to understand. In short it's garbage in a pretty package colored and shaped to please the human eye. And the thought that comes to mind is one I'm sure you're familiar with: Garbage in garbage out.
So in order to sleep at night I make my dogs food. And I read a lot about dog nutrition. And I try to do my best to see that they get what they need. One of the things I've read many times that they don't need or need very little of is carbs. My dogs get carbs...for the most part in the form of certain vegetables. But they also get rice and that's not a carb that falls into a 'natural' diet for a dog and that's why I was trying the enzymes....to give them something that would ensure that they are able to process the carbs in their diet. I've found it virtually impossible (not to mention wicked expensive) to feed them enough to keep their weight at normal levels without using rice for some of their meals. And nobody wants to see a skinny dog!As it turns out I've once more (Allie was the first of my dogs with food allergies) become the owner of dogs with 'food sensitivities' or possibly allergies. I believe this was the reason that Nick started barfing on the enzymes. They are just too much for the sensitive stomach of a dog with food allergies/sensitivities.
So I will shelf that idea and more forward in the search for better food and a well rounded diet. One food I do give them is from the Honest Kitchen. It's a raw dehydrated food made from vegetables and fruits. They love it! But then these are two dogs that eat everything...including things that are not food. What I like about it is it fills in for some of the foods I just can't afford to buy on a constant basis and seems to keep their stools very normal. It is a requirement that a protein be added if using that food only. I rotate their proteins as they seem to have definite problems with certain meats. Chicken, beef and dairy are the most frequently reactionary foods for dogs. My dogs must have read that somewhere because they have a problem with all three foods! I was feeding them chicken for quite some time before I realized that was what was causing them to have diarrhea. So that not only eliminates chicken but all birds. And when they started having gas when they ate beef or cheese I knew they were no longer an option either. The real problem arises when you discover that many other meats are too similar to beef...they can't have them. And the cheese was just a much cheaper way to provide protein that is off the table now too. Currently they are doing fine on fish and ground pork but I will be experimenting with lamb some time soon.
So the search for the best dog diet continues and I'll continue to read as much as I can find about dog nutrition. The picture below of the enzymes are what I used and won't be using again. However if you are feeding your dog a commercial dog food with no problems you might want to try this type of enzyme and see if it works for your dog. Just because I can't use it doesn't mean it's a bad product. Don't take my word for it. Read up on dog nutrition and form your own opinion.
The book below is a fascinating read but be warned...you will never think of commercial dog food the same way again after reading it and you may decide not to feed it to your dog going forward. And some of the information about how dog food standards are created is absolutely heart breaking. They use live animals for the studies and it's criminal to treat animals (mostly puppies) like that in the name of science!
Well I finally got around to trying a new dog biscuit recipe for the pups. (I call them pups because they act like it but they are really incredibly active big dogs) I must say I didn't check out that recipe before I printed it and when I took a real look at the ingredients I was a little shocked to see 'sugar' as an ingredient. That's just crazy! Dogs don't need sugar anymore than we do and it's just as destructive to them as it is to us. (not that I don't love my sugar, I do..I do...really I do!)So I knew at that point that I had to 'doctor' this recipe. That's no problem really. These girls eat things that aren't even food..I'm sure they'll eat the biscuits without even really tasting them.
So I omitted the sugar and also omitted the corn meal because I didn't have any in the house. I added more oats, some wheat germ and a little more flour instead. The batter turned out to be too wet anyway (probably because they had me using 2 eggs and oil) so I added more oats to dry it out. These were supposed to be peanut butter dog biscuits but the recipe only called for 2 tlbsof peanut butter. I added three and they still don't have a whole lot of peanut butter smell or flavor to them. (yes, I ate some to see what they taste like...hmmmm, needs sugar if I'm going to like them!) They ended up nice and crunchy which is good but that's because I left them in the oven after turning it off.
Over all I am not pleased with this recipe and I won't use it again. The search for a better dog biscuit recipe is still on. Meanwhile the girls will polish these off in no time. It's gratifying to know that even my 'less than impressive' biscuit attempts will not go to waste with them. Good doggies!
Nicki has been recovering nicely. In fact she's driving me nuts! I knew it would be hard to keep a young dog quiet...but do you have any idea how much harder it is when there are TWO of them? And these two are famous for not listening to a thing I say when they are together. It's a full time job stopping them from throwing themselves into the air and landing on each other. Nick has learned how to take the Elizabethan collar off...at least while in her pen. I woke one morning to find it sitting in the pen and her curled up sleeping next to it. I thought for sure those stitches would be a mess. But no, they looked fine...not even red skin around them. I think she got tired of trying to maneuver turns in the pen with the collar getting in her way all the time so she just found a way to get it off.
Bell has had a few tries at untying Nick's collar while the two of them are loose too. Three times she's gone after the ties and once she almost succeeded too. The other two times I caught her and all she had done was get the ties really wet. I love how Nick would just stand there and let her do it. It's like they worked out how to get it off and all they needed was a little time to complete the plan. I'm not kidding when I said it's so much harder when there are two of them.
The stitches come out on Monday. That's going to be an uncomfortable visit. I haven't seen Dr. Willis since the surgery took place. I did receive a phone message from her office earlier this week asking me to call in and leave a message for Dr. Willis letting her know how Nick was doing. I didn't call them. I'm not able to pretend this is all fine and there was no problem so I just let it go. I'm still irritated and upset about how this whole fiasco went down. But I am wondering if Dr. Willis is ever going to apologise about this and take the blame for it. She hasn't yet. We'll see how this appointment goes down.
Here are a couple of pictures of these two looking totally innocent. But don't you believe it! :)
Two weeks ago Nicki started vomiting after dinner. It continued into the next day and I began to really worry. It's not uncommon for a dog to lose an occasional dinner but to continue into the next day is not normal. I called my vet but his office was closing. They referred me to a vet hospital in South Windsor. I had formed a less than desirable opinion of them years ago and decided to see a different vet hospital in West Hartford instead.
After 41/2 hrs at the hospital; blood work and x-rays it was determined that Nicki had a large stone in her bladder. It was too large to pass with medication and I was told if it blocked her bladder and she was unable to pee it could burst her bladder and kill her. They wanted to keep her and do the surgery. I said no. I wanted my own vet to do the surgery. I took her home.The vomiting had stopped and she seemed pretty normal although she was very gassy and her stomach was making gurgling noises.
I called my vet the next day to explain the problem and found out that my vet was going to be on vacation. He called me back to discuss the situation and again I was referred to the vet hospital in South Windsor. Somewhere along the way these two hospitals had become affiliated. He offered to set up the appointment to meet the vet and have the surgery done. I agreed and went to a night appointment the following evening. I liked Dr Willis. She is young and smart...and seemed to be well informed on current veterinary advancements. I felt she was a good choice and thought I may even see her afterward for some consultation on food allergies I think Nick and Bell both have. She said she'd like to take her own x-ray that night to verify the problem and that there would be no charge for it. Unfortunately there was something wrong with their x-ray machine so that couldn't be done. She promised me the machine would be fixed by Friday (when the surgery was scheduled) and that it was her proceedure to take a before and after shot for this type of operation. This ensures there are no more smaller stones or granduals left in the bladder to cause more trouble down the road. I left with a good feeling about her.
Friday came and my stomach was tied in knots. Nick is one of my babies and a very happy go lucky dog. I knew she'd be in pain coming home and I felt guilty about that. She didn't have a clue what was coming and hasn't formed any fear of going to the vets office. She just bounds through the door expecting everyone to love her on sight and that's pretty much what usually happens too. She's hard not to love. I had discussed feeding Nick with the vet as well and we had agreed that because I don't feed my dogs traditional dog food, I should bring food for them to give her. I brought the food with me that day too.
Friday afternoon I got the expected call from the vet to tell me Nick was doing well and recovering quietly after surgery. She then dropped the bomb on me and I have to admit it took awhile for it to sink in with me. She said she had gotten the copy of the x-ray from the W. Htfd hospital and when she got inside Nick she found nothing. There was nothing there! Then she started asking me if I had seen anything large or unusual come out in her stools. She was guessing that it may have been something in the bowels all along and never was a bladder stone to begin with. What she didn't admit to immediately was that she had neglected to take her own x-ray before starting the surgery...something she had promised me and explained it as part of her normal procedure. The more I thought about it during the day the angrier I got.The first hospital had been completely wrong and she had screwed up even more! Why had she not taken that first x-ray? She took the x-ray after the surgery..just not the one before the surgery. She blew it! She had performed an unnecessary surgery on my poor dog because she didn't take that all important x-ray!
By the time I got there the next morning to take Nick home I was well rehearsed in what I was going to say. I found out when I got there that she wasn't even there that day. Coward! I thought to myself. The receptionist had no idea what had taken place (or so she said) so she didn't know what to say to me when I told her. This surgery was supposed to have cost me $1500.00 roughly. They were now trying to charge me $400.00 for what was done. I explained very calmly to the woman exactly what had taken place (in front of a great deal of other people who were trying to look nonchalant while they listened very intently to what I was saying) and that I was not going to pay $400.00 for an unnecessary surgery. She offered to call the vet and ask her about the situation while I sat down across the waiting room to wait for the answer. I couldn't hear the whole conversation but I heard bits and pieces of it. One thing I'm sure I heard was the word 'malpractice'. I didn't waste any time using that word also when she called me back up to the desk. I told her that under the circumstances I was willing to pay $200.00 for the anesthesia and the drugs that Nicki was coming home with however I don't feel obligated to pay anything for this unnecessary surgery to begin with. She said that $200.00 wouldn't even cover the cost of the medications. To which I replied that if the vet had taken the x-ray she was supposed to take no medications would have been used and no surgery would have taken place. And besides that I'm fully aware that there is more than a 100% mark up on all drugs they use so I'm quite sure they are not losing any money anyway. And my last remark to her was she should be glad I'm willing to pay anything at all instead of calling a lawyer and filing a malpractice claim! That seemed to do the trick very nicely. The poor woman looked like she would have willingly melted into the floor rather than deal with me. And she quietly said that seems more than fair given the circumstances here. I paid my tab and stepped to the other hallway to wait for Nicki to be brought out to me.
I have to say Nicki still looked fairly good when they brought her out even if she did have that ridicules collar around her neck. They also brought out the food container to me and I noticed right away that it had not been touched. They either fed her something else or never fed her at all. I was irritated at that but decided to say no more and just get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I fed Nicki when we got home...giving her small amounts at a time to see what the reaction would be. She is now roaming the house bumping into everything with her collar and stumbling aside at each encounter. She can't seem to get used to the fact that she needs extra room to take a corner now. When her pain medication wears off she's a mess. She stands with her head hanging and refuses to even try to lay down. It's so sad! She barely fits in her pen with the collar on and I dare not leave it off. I'm quite sure she'd be at those stitches immediately if left to her own decisions. The pain meds seem to take forever to kick in too because in the morning she will lay down but keeps crying (a sound I've never heard from her before) every few minutes for at least a half hour.
Bell is trying to play with her and I have to keep a constant watch on them. I want to leave Nicki loose as much as possible because of the tight squeeze the collar creates when in her pen. So I'm letting them wander free all day but it's a continual battle to keep Bell from untying Nicki's collar (yes, she's tried to untie it 3 times now); jumping on her; pawing at her side or chucking toys at her that get stuck in the cone of her collar. I can take Bell for a walk but Nicki is on restricted exercise for now. The whole situation is messed up and still makes me very angry when I think it could all have been avoided if Dr Willis had just taken that damn x-ray in the first place!
One of the reasons I decided to put the bill for this on my Visa card is because I can dispute the charge when it comes on my bill. All that is required is that I state all the facts; supply documentation and tell them why I feel that the charge is unfair and that I'd like it off my bill. I have a copy of the estimate for the surgery and the actual bill indicating that I paid $200.00 basically for the release of my dog. I also am contemplating what if anything I should do about the W. Htfd vet hospital that gave the wrong diagnosis in the first place. I've got the invoice from them as well and they were paid $563.97 for their errors. Between the two of these 'hospitals' I've taken a hell of a hit to the bank account and none of it is fair to me or Nicki! Is there no one out there that is competent anymore?
The other day I took the girls to run a tennis court at one of the High Schools in town. It cools off around dusk so that's when we went...there is never anyone around. They had a blast running until they were exhausted. When we got home both dogs were limping slightly. I thought...that's odd...both of them doing it at the same time.
I gave them both a children's aspirin and they crashed on the floor while we watched a movie. Before bed they were better but still had some limping going on. I gave them each another children's aspirin and they went to bed. The next day Nicki was fine but Bell was still a little stiff walking. I figured they had just out done themselves while running. Plus they are running on a hard surface and they've had this happen before.
It wasn't until a day later that KC noticed a cut on Bell's leg....and it was a big one! She had a gash that was somewhat splayed open..almost looked like it needed stitches...and a scrape mark trailing under that. It looked like Nicki must have caught her just right on the leg with her toe nail. There certainly was nothing at the tennis courts that could have caused this and I always walk the courts looking for garbage before letting them run loose. Although the cut was large and open it wasn't bleeding. I'm betting Bell had licked it clean herself when it happened. I put some organic herbal healing salve on it with a bandage...knowing full well that bandage wasn't going to stay on long. Bell is sneakier than I give her credit for however and after walking like her leg was broken for 10 mins (I was laughing at her the whole time) she settled down and completely ignored it. Problem solved.
That night I stupidly left the bandage on her leg when she went to bed. I actually figured she was going to be the one dog in a million that isn't going to mess around with her bandage! Well, come morning that bandage was gone...completely gone...not a trace of it or the tape I used was there. She had decided to eat the entire thing during the night! What was I thinking! Or course she would do something to it during the night. She's a dog! I had to keep an eye out for the exit of that bandage material for the next day and I wasn't disappointed. It showed up eventually. Bell and I never discussed it again.
Since then I've been putting gobs of the herbal salve on her cut and she licks it off at night...never in front of me...but she's doing it. None the less the cut is healing well anyway. It only has one spot that is still open looking now but I think she may still end up with a scar. It looks like the hair may not grow there anymore. Only time will tell. I think it's time to clip both their nails again, don't you?
This is one of the most bizarre things that these two dogs have done yet. Unbelievable!
So last night I’m talking on the phone with my friend and all of a sudden Bell and Nicki go tearing by me and Nicki is screaming (yes, screaming!) at the top of her lungs. Bell is terrified because Nicki is screaming right next to her ear. Nicki is screaming because she somehow got her toe stuck in Bell’s collar. The more Nicki screams the faster Bell runs…the faster Bell runs the more it hurts Nicki and she continues screaming!
I dropped the phone and took off after them. They were heading for the kitchen…Bell wanted out of this nightmare! I caught hold of Nicki’s collar just as she got her toe out of the collar. She stopped and just stood there…a little freaked out….but at least she wasn’t screaming anymore. I made her stand still for me so I could check out her foot. She was ok, no blood, no pain when I manipulated the foot and toe. Nicki forgot all about it in about 5 minutes. (good little airhead)
Bell was standing near the door…no, more like crouching near the door..and vibrating like crazy. She was obviously terrified and didn’t understand what had just happened. I told her it was ok now and petted her. I didn’t think much of it. I figured she’d snap back in a few minutes and forget all about it. I was very wrong. I decided to vacuum everywhere while I had them at a calm moment. So I hauled out the vacuum and got to it. Bell was right at my side…and I mean RIGHT AT MY SIDE. She was actually getting in my way but she wouldn’t leave me. I kept petting her and telling her it was ok but nothing made her feel better. I decided to make my way up the stairs and into my room…vacuuming as I went. Bell either stood behind me; crouched on the stair I was trying to vacuum; huddled in the corner of the hallway or stood in the bathroom the whole time. Have you ever tried to vacuum around a large dog? It’s not easy!
Once that was done I coaxed her back downstairs with me. She put herself between the wall and my chair for the next half hour…still shaking. I kept talking to her and petting her but she wouldn’t calm down. I did get her to come out for a dog biscuit but then she’d go back to hide. Nicki tried to play with her several times but she just cowered away from her. I gave up and decided it was probably best to just put them to bed…act like normal. In the morning Bell was better, a little more subdued than normal but at least she ate breakfast…Bell can always eat.
But when it was time to take them out to potty Bell was crouching and hiding again. I had to pull her out the door. Outside she did her business and then just stood there looking miserable and shaking again. I don’t know how long this is going to take for her to get over it but I’m really shocked that she’s even remembering it today.
Note: Bell was her old self again by the time I got home from work. Glad that's behind us! No pictures on this one folks. There just wasn't any time!
A few days ago I let Justin talk me into taking a walk with the dogs around town. I had no idea he meant really all around the town! It started out innocently enough...I was looking forward to the exercise being outside for a change. I've been working out on my Total Gym a lot lately because of the excessive heat and that can get really boring really fast. Plus your muscles get used to what you're doing so it's always good to change it up a bit.
I do take the girls out together some times now. It's still a challenge but I think they are improving somewhat. I even bought a special leash made for walking two dogs at once. Whoever thought of this idea seems to have forgotten that dogs that go walking often like to potty along the way. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get one dog to stand still while the other one does their business? Each side of the leash only gives them about 1 1/2 feet of room to move away from the other. That's not a lot of room when you have two young dogs that are used to being quite a bit farther from each other when they do that. Bell looked at me like 'what the hell is this Mom'? when it was her turn. (she's always the one that looks like that at me) I can't say I blame her. It was just as awkward for me having to pick it up with both of them trying to walk away (in different directions no less!) after they were done. This is going to take some getting used to that's for sure. I also bought a 'gentle leader' for Nick since she's the excited one all the time. This contraption is supposed to stop her from pulling on the leash....yeah, right. Well, I tried it on her in the house and she let me put it on but went nuts trying to get it off afterward. Poor dog. She was all excited about going for a walk so I tried leaving the house with them both on the double leash AND poor Nicki in the gentle leader. It was just too much for her and not really fair to spring both things on her at the same time so I took it off and attached it to my belt loop for the rest of the walk.
But for this walk with Justin; KC and the girls I didn't use any of the fancy stuff. Two leashes, two dogs, no gentle leader. I told Justin (he had Nicki) when Nick pulls just stop walking and tell her to heel. She'll bounce back into the correct position and you can start up again. I didn't tell him he'd be doing that for the next two hours almost continually. ha ha I wanted him to have as much fun as I do when I walk her. Well once I found out how far we were going and how long it would take..I was glad I didn't tell him Nicki's tricks. Serves him right for springing this marathon on me with no real notice! He claimed it was a three mile walk. I think he just made that number up in his head because it sure felt like twice that amount! Of course the heat didn't help much either. It was a cloudy day but it was very muggy. My face was red and I started sweating almost as soon as I got out the door. Overall it was good for us all. We all got some exercise; the dogs got to blow off their perpetual supply of energy and we got to see some really mundane and ugly scenery along the way too. Most of the walk took place on the streets and not in what I would call the pretty neighborhoods. Some really run down areas in my town that's for sure.
By the time we got home my feet were screaming and my knees were threatening to revolt. It's been too long since I hiked I guess and my body has a ready supply of complaints to display whenever it feels it's being abused. Not a problem. Once I got home I took a shower and popped a couple of White Willow capsules. It took a while for my face to return to it's normal color but the pain is all gone. And the rain held off until we got home. Good job! The girls threw themselves down on the carpet in front of the fan and I didn't hear a peep out of them for over an hour. They were also very happy to go to bed early tonight.
Nick has a habit of letting you know when she wants to play. She saunters over and puts whatever sloppy wet toy she has on you. Just drops the icky thing on your lap; your clothes; your arm or whatever is available. It's not too hard to figure out from there that she wants you to throw it for her.
This was her most resent offering, balanced perfectly on my knee while I was on the computer. Smart dog!
I finally got a picture of Bell with her collar in her mouth. This can not be comfortable! And she was NOT happy with me for taking a picture before I took it off of her. I guess I forgot to take the collar off before she went to bed. But honestly, you'd think she'd learn not to do it by now just because it's uncomfortable. I really hope she outgrows this behavior.
It was Nicki's turn to go hiking with me today. And little did she know she'd end up swimming when she intended on 'wading'! I noticed there were two beaver dams on the small river that we walk by on our way to the trails. I also noticed the water was quite a bit higher because of those two dams. I don't think the rangers have been through that area yet because they always take the dams down when the beavers have been busy....something about water flow I guess.
I'm sure Nick likes water. She never hesitates to jump in if she gets the chance. So I thought she might enjoy a quick dip before we hit the trail. What I didn't realize is that she has always been going into shallow water and has never really been actually swimming. Well this time she blindly jumped in and found herself in chest deep water. The look on her face was priceless! If it's possible for a dogs face to register shock...she did it! And she immediately started trying to throw herself out of the water...or was making a feeble attempt at swimming...I couldn't tell. Whatever it was it had me laughing my butt off! After all she HAS webbed feet. What does she think they are for?
The rest of the day was for exploring interesting smells; peeing on stuff; looking for the animals that were making those weird noises and investigating new terrain. She had a great day. I came home exhausted and sweaty. She came home wet (went in the brook again on the way back) and exhilarated, ready to play rough and tumble with Bell as soon as she got in the door. What a lovely day it was!
For a few weeks now Bell has been getting her collar stuck in her mouth. I have no idea why she does this but I'm glad Nicki isn't doing it. Perhaps she's trying to chew it because the collar has a pink (I need my dogs to be color coded for identity) material woven through the metal loops. Bell loves to chew cloth....and eat it. And she doesn't stop there. She's also developed a fetish about the small decorative stones in my house plants. I've often caught her clicking them around in her mouth while she trots through the house. And the lawn deposits she makes are extremely colorful too!
It's second nature for everyone in the house to ask Bell what's in her mouth and then open her mouth and take it away from her. It happens almost on a daily basis. As soon as someone asks her what she has in her mouth she becomes a statue. She never fights it...just stands there and waits to have it taken away. At least she's docile about it. But come on! Does it have to be the collar too??
I bought these metal collars for the dogs because Bell was grabbing Nicki by the collar and leading her around the house. Then it progressed to chewing on Nick's collar until it came off and she'd eat it. She ate everything but the buckle!! When I changed to metal choke chains (large so they are not restricted by them) I bought them with cloth woven in the middle to make it easier to tell who was who. Within a week Bell had eaten the cloth out of Nicki's collar so hers is now just plain metal. I thought it would stop there but NO, Bell decided she wanted the cloth in her own collar. And now she regularly gets it stuck in her mouth and around the back of her head. I've taken to putting her in her pen at night 'naked' for safety reasons.
I'm beginning to wonder if Bell is trying to make it difficult to tell her apart from Nicki. It's already not an easy task. Bell has a white streak on her chest but it can't be seen when she's standing...or getting into trouble. They are sisters but not exactly 'identical twins'. Nicki looks more like a hound; long lean body and head with long ears; howls when she has something to talk about. Bell looks like the Lab part of her parents; slightly shorter and thicker than Nick; shorter nose; and will bark rather than howl most of the time. But when one of them is doing something wrong I often just call them Dog because I can't tell who it is from every angle. Believe it or not they know themselves as both 'Dog' and 'Girls' (for when they are both engaged in wrongful deeds).
I've often said I don't really understand Bell. She's a sweet dog and a great watchdog for the house. But she seems to think following through with a command (sit Bell...sit...sit....sit....oh come on just sit already!) is a punishment or at least something that should be done in slow motion. She's all about food all the time or she has a desire to learn to cook because she's always in the kitchen. Nicki would always rather play. Bell is more aggressive in her play also and I often have to keep an eye on them so Nick doesn't develop any more bald spots.
I guess in time I'll have them all figured out. After all I haven't even had them for a year yet. But for now I think we'll all just go take a ride. Bell loves to drive!
Nicki and Bell have just informed me that our government has an unusual program set up to protect dogs that have (through no fault of their own) become embroiled in events that may endanger their lives. It's called the K9 Witness Protection Program. It provides a new identity for any dog that may be in a predicament that puts them in danger. It runs much the same way as the program (of similar name) provided for humans.
These are a few of the candidates in the program. Isn't our government wonderful??
Obviously the last picture is of an entire family that had to go into the program!
Ihad a terrible scare the other day with the dogs. Both of them got out of the house and went tearing down the road; across neighbors lawns and up and down the sidewalk! Nicki (looking like a black greyhound) apparently had no concept of cars killing her and luckily Justin was brave enough (or crazy enough) to jump out into traffic and stop all the cars! Sara, Justin and I went frantically running after them, calling them, yelling at them, doing everything we could think of to get them to at least stop. Luckily all the cars stopped where they were and watched the scene unfold. There was a line of traffic stopped in both directions and I barely had time to acknowledge that in my desperate attempt to grab Nicki's collar as she went zooming by me. I failed to catch her and I swear she was having the time of her life! Neither of them seemed to remember a single command they've been taught.
After a few terrifying minutes (that seemed like slow motion hours) Bell decided she had to take a dump and she decided to do it on my neighbors lawn. (the guy that is REALLY finicky about his lawn being perfect too!) I managed to grab her collar and prevent her from running anymore. Nicki, being the pack animal that she is just had to swing back to find out why she was running by herself. Justin managed to snag Nicki when she came to check on Bell.
That was one terrifying few minutes! Once we had both dogs in tow I waved to all the people in the cars and thanked them as loudly as I could. Some of them waved back at me and most of them had smiles on their faces. Perhaps they've had the same thing happen. Perhaps they just enjoyed the show. I don't know. But I was deeply grateful to all of them for stopping no matter what their reasons may have been.
A little while later I made a trip to Petco and purchased two stout "runs" made of covered wire with sturdy clips on them. I had both dogs outside with me while I weeded my garden. They were safe and I was happy to have them outside and enjoying the sunshine. We were outside for a little over an hour and when I finished weeding I figured it was time to untangle them and take them inside with me. That's when I found a mass of small, blood red, spots all over Bell's belly. Nicki was the same. I knew they must be bites from something but I've never seen bite marks like that before. I took them both inside and washed their stomachs with a shampoo product I had just gotten from the Vet for the slight rash they both have on the belly. They weren't bothered by the bites so I forgot all about it for a few hours. Later when I looked at Bell's belly again I found the spots had flattened and spread out. The same was happening to Nicki's bite marks.
Not knowing what they were from I had taken pictures of both dogs stomachs earlier. I now took more pictures to show the difference in the bites after a few hours. Within a couple of days the bite marks were completely gone. I still don't know what they were from but I'm worried about putting them outside if it's going to happen again. For any of you that may have seen this before these are the pictures I took. The first picture is immediately after being bitten. The second picture is the bites a few hours later. Have you seen this before?
Incidentally, both my girls have a green "X" on their belly. Nobody knows what it's from but my guess is that it's from when they were spayed. They were both very young when they were spayed as is customary in shelters. I think someone marked them for the spay procedure. X marks the spot to cut. My Vet laughed when I said that but said it could be true. We'll never know for sure but it's permanent.
You know how you always hear that old expression...look what the cat dragged in? Well look what Bell dragged in!
She does this type of thing all the time...grabs stuff from outside just as we're going in the house. I usually don't see it but I catch her chewing on something and take it out of her mouth. Nine times out of ten it's something small and stupid...like a leaf or a nut. Tonight she outdid herself and snagged a good size piece of pine tree. Luckily I saw her proudly trotting by Nicki with it in her mouth, no doubt on her way to the living room to munch on it. I couldn't help but laugh at her. She's so serious about her antics. I think she really thinks it's ok to eat these things and has no idea why I keep taking them away from her.
Well Bell had an appointment with the Vet but Nicki just had to come along for the ride. I couldn't stand the thought of Nick sitting at home in the pen while I took Bell to the vet so what the hell...I took them both.
Once again Dr Aronson talked me out of doing the allergy testing. The guy is quite persuasive to say the least. He said he didn't have a lot of confidence in the testing (now he tells me!) because it doesn't seem to be accurate enough and he didn't want to waste my money. (I like the way you think Dr Aronson) I had many tests done with my previous dog and he's right. The tests really only give you a general idea of what the dog may be allergic to with food and external influences. It's not a guarantee at all. I couldn't help but wonder why we did so much testing with my other dog if he felt the tests weren't accurate. He volunteered that information before I even had to ask it. He said when they first came out with the test there was nothing to compare it to..no other tests had ever been available. As a vet he was thrilled to have a new tool to diagnose allergies in dogs. Over time they came to realize that the testing wasn't accurate enough to rely on for a conclusive answer but they learned meanwhile that good results could be had most of the time if they used probiotics with dogs that had allergy symptoms.
So it would appear that my dog Allie was somewhat of a test dog and we never knew it. The allergy testing we did with her over the years did give me a good indication of what she would react to with food. But the science had not been perfected and apparently it still is not perfected.
Bells symptoms are very similar to some of the early symptoms that my Allie had. Bell's ear is red and irritated; she has a belly rash; she scratches a lot and has more than normal shedding going on; and she vomits bile and/or her food (thank goodness it's only occasionally!). Nicki shares a few of these symptoms as well but does not have the same level of issues. Hers are a lot more subdued.
Dr Aronson was able to do a culture of the ear (just barely) and found that she has an overgrowth of yeast in the ear. It wasn't possible to culture the belly rash but it's assumed at this point that it is also a yeast issue. He treated her ear with some drops and rubbed it...she loved that! And Nicki was pushing her way closer to Dr Aronson the whole time to get some too. Nicki is an attention hog anyway. The ear medication came along with a body wash for the belly. I'm to wash the belly once a day and it's supposed to calm the area down and eventually return the skin to normal. Let's hope so!
We discussed what I'm feeding them as well. Originally I was giving them only people food and that's when the issues started. I then tried a couple of different dog foods with human food added. Still had a problem. Around that time the diarrhea issues kicked in as well. (remember that?? I do!) So I started doing more research on dog foods and finally came up with one I can live with and hopefully so can they. It's from the Honest Kitchen and it's a raw dehydrated food that requires that you only add a protein to the mix after it's re-hydrated. This seems to be working well. The only issue I have is the expense of it. It ain't cheap! And with two large dogs it goes rather quickly. But only having to add a protein really helps out a lot. In the long run it may actually save me money. Plus I don't have to do a whole lot of cooking for them.
So currently I am to continue treating the ear and washing the bellies and keep them on the new dog food. I am also staying with one protein source until the treatments are over so we can have a better idea of how they do. I'm using dairy currently as their protein. (cottage cheese; yogurt or shredded cheese) It's affordable and they love it. I've also been told to add back in the probiotic they were on for the time being as well. I just pop that in their food and they never even notice it's there. (although they do like the taste of it too) And now I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Oh it's been a rocky ride with the girls lately. Once the probiotic from the Vet kicked in things were going great. Now that they've been off it for a bit their stools seem to be softening up a little and I'm getting nervous! I have another probiotic on order and it's been shipped but when it will arrive I don't know. I'm hoping it comes soon before real trouble kicks in again. And another thought I've had is....why do they need to take probiotics all the time to be normal?? The answer...there is something wrong behind all this. I thought about a month ago that they might have a food allergy and I'm thinking that all over again. The Vet didn't agree with me at the time I took Bell in but that might be because I forgot to mention that both dogs are scratching more than usual and they both have a rash developing on their bellies. Too much of a coincidence I think! My other dog, Allie started this same way many years ago (with the skin issues) and it's an ongoing fear with me to this day. So the only other thing I can do is call the Vet and tell him again what my suspicions are and this time list the reasons why. This of course will end up with at least one dog being tested and lot of money flying out the window. Nothing at the Vet's office comes cheap. I know why he doesn't want to do the allergy testing. It's not a fool proof science with dogs yet. You can get many false positives and I did with Allie. But it's a step I feel I have to take and soon. I can't let them revert back to having diarrhea again and keep them on a cycle of probiotics to control it. That just screams at me to find out the problem behind it all. So buckle up pocketbook..we're in for one hell of a ride!
It hasn't been all bad for the girls lately however. They have been having 'play dates' with my friends dog, Teddy. Nicki needs to learn how to calm down around other dogs but Bell already plays well with others. Teddy doesn't much like Nick yet but we're working on that. He doesn't want to share his toys with her and he doesn't appreciate her energy level at all....but it's getting better every time. Eventually they will all be good friends I'm sure. Nicki thinks she's best friends with Teddy already but she's in her own little world most of the time anyway. (sigh)
Well it's been a rough couple of weeks with these two. They both decided it was time to have diarrhea in their pens and for the life of me I couldn't convince them to stop! Seemed like no matter what I tried it didn't work and I was reaching the end of my rope. Then I remembered yogurt and it worked. I guess with all the weird things they eat outside their tummy's just had to revolt. But don't feel sorry for them. It didn't affect their their fun one little bit! Nothing seems to stop them from ripping through the house knocking stuff over...grabbing a sister by the collar and hauling her around the rooms....chasing the cat whenever she is unfortunate enough to venture out when they are loose... or running up and down the stairs at top speeds whenever anyone goes up stairs. They have enough energy to run the entire house...if only I could capture it somehow!
I came home to find a mutilated collar (or what was left of it) on the living room floor the other day. Nicki was missing hers so I assumed it was Bell that destroyed it. Nicki has many talents but chewing up her own collar while she's wearing it is not one of them. The unfortunate part was that this was a training collar and I really need them to have that collar. So I was off to the training 'barn' to get another one. (they had their training classes at the Powder Mill Barn). I've never been able to find these collars anywhere but at the training class. The woman who runs the classes wasn't surprised that they had ruined the collar. She said she was surprised I didn't show up sooner! I brought Bell's collar so she could measure it and I was lucky they had that size in stock.
Well I decided I wasn't going to do this again so I bought 4 collars! Go ahead and chew girls, I've got it covered! The collars are pretty cheap...only $5 so that was a relief, especially considering I may need to buy more in the future. The only problem with all of this was that this all happened on a Thursday and I was expected at the animal shelter so I had to get a move on. And as a result of rushing around I accidentally left Bell's collar at the barn. Once I got home I realized it and had to run back to get it right away. Bell's collar had a frayed spot so I was able to identify it immediately but it had been thrown back into the bag with all the new ones. That took a few minutes and I was off and running.
So originally I was going to keep Nicki in a purple collar and Bell in pink. Now that I've realized they find it funny to ruin them I can't afford to be picky about the colors. I bought whatever she had. I'm sure the collars they have will bite the dust before long. I can only hope that eventually they will outgrow some of this rowdy behavior because it gets to be a bit much sometimes girls!