Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brodie Goes Shopping!

While Bradley was in school yesterday, Brodie and I took our 15% off coupon to Just Dogs for a shopping spree. I wanted to get him a backpack. When he wears a backpack he doesn't pull on the leash as hard because he feels like he is working. He had one but the stitches came loose on the chest strap. Brodie was so excited to go somewhere. I think he was excited to not have Bradley with us too. So we tried on the backpack and it fit wonderfully. While we were there, I saw a dog testing out a brand new toy arrival. It's the Linkables by our favorite toy company Premier. They are really super sturdy links that each hold treats and have the little prongs to make them work to get it out. Each link can connect and make a little puzzle. So Brodie took his turn with the demo toy. He was having so much fun. I had to get it. Brodie loves a challenge. Each piece is sold separately and because we were buying the backpack too we could only buy two links. So we bought the orb and the elbow link because it seems to be the hardest part. I hope to get more links. We put our toys in Brodie's backpack, which he was still wearing, and headed home. Here's some pics of Brodie in his new backpack and playing with the new toy. When Bradley got home I fed him in his Omega ball as usual and Brodie was eating from his jug. I heard this terrible whining from the bedroom. It was Bradley crying over the new toy because he could smell that it had had treats in it, but he didn't know what to do with it. His solution, pull it apart. So I put it back together and put some food in it. He got it all out. Of course, his food is in really small pieces. When I checked on him he was just licking the toy even though it was empty. He does that because food falls out of his cheeks and he thinks it's coming out of the toy. Silly dog! I'll let you know how the toy works out in the long term. But from experience all the Premier toys are great and the Linkables seem to be made of the same material as the squirrel toys that we've never destroyed. Love Premier. Love Just Dogs!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pug Hill

Just finished the book Pug Hill by Alison Pace. Dog lover Hope, currently without dog, frequently seeks refuge on Pug Hill in Central Park when she is discourage, scared, etc. I found the book title and jacket to be a little misleading. The dogs actually don't play a big part in this book. It's about Hope's break up with her boyfriend, crush on a co-worker, impending speech at her parents' anniversary party and single life in New York City. BTW, she's deathly afraid of public speaking, which is the path the book takes. Be prepared there is a quite lengthy string of obscenities in the first chapter. It is not indicative of the entire book. However, there is language throughout including quite a bit of the "f" word. I personally am put off by a heroine who uses vulgar language. But it doesn't ruin the book. It's not a great read, but it is humorous and easy. Good for a day at the beach or rainy day. It my case, I was sick. I didn't have to think too hard and it was entertaining enough to keep me awake. However, if you're looking for a great dog book, this is not it. But she does have a unique and fun style of writing, sharing the story of how a six week class on overcoming presentation anxiety changes her life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Funny Ears

Bradley does funny things with his ears. Sometimes when he comes to us he has them down low, in a submissive pose. And he looks like Yoda with the pink showing. I got this picture, but sometimes it's even funnier.
Then he also runs around with his ear flopped over backwards and he doesn't even care. He'll run around like that forever.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Successful Saturday

Saturday morning started at Executive Park for a little training about pulling on the leash. Or rather, to not pull on the leash. With my Fibromyalgia it can be hard to walk the dogs, but especially if they are pulling on the leash. I have my clicker, I have my treats, I have a dog whining to get out of the car. So, what method will I train with? Every time the dogs pull on the leash say "Uh-Oh" and turn to walk the other direction. The theory is that soon the dogs will realize they are getting nowhere and quit pulling. Here's how that works with my dogs. Since the dogs are on a tandem leash, Bradley is just like a passenger in a car. Just along for the ride, not paying attention to where we're going. Just being pulled around by Brodie. Brodie on the other hand is a work horse. As soon as we pull up in the car he sees the sidewalk and knows that is our course. His job is to get around and across the finish line. That is the goal. So we're off. First of all, it's not that easy to just turn around and change directions when you're dogs in combination weigh over 130 pounds. So it's "Uh-Oh." Plant both feet on the ground and hold on to stop them. Then "let's go this way", turning directions. Repeat five hundred times. They don't seem to be getting it. We're just spinning circles. I do realize this is a very distracting place to train since there is the water, the swans, dead fish on the edge of the sidewalk, the interstate noise in the background. But at least I'm at the park and not pacing back and forth in front of someone's house while they call the cops on us. We get about 2 feet further every time we come back because that's where the new smells are. Then we turn around. This is ridiculous. Bradley has no clue what's going on, but then again he doesn't pull anyway. He gets bored and starts picking up sticks to eat as we walk. Brodie is like a GPS, recalculating every time we turn around, reprogramming a new route to the destination. After about an hour, we finally make it to the bridge, almost half way around. I have to take a break because my hands are hurting from the leash. I decide to take a picture of my boys. You can see the difference in them. Bradley is hanging out. Brodie is looking at the course waiting to get back to work. Even the swans don't disturb Brodie as we make our way over the next hill. I think this picture is the male trying to intimidate us. The swans didn't care about us until we got to this side and now they follow us. We're all tired and my hands hurt so we've got to make it back to the car. So I change my method. Instead of turning around when they pull, I just stop and wait for there to be some slack in the leashes. We eventually get back to the car and head home. Bradley is exhausted. But that was just a warm up for Brodie. So we play fetch in the backyard. The AT&T guy is in the yard behind us, where the pit bull lives. Her owners never come outside so when we lose balls over there, we don't get them back. But I persuade him to throw us some. We get a total of 3. Then since all the snow has melted we go behind the back fence to the wooded area to see if we can find any. We don't, but it's still fun running through the brush. And here's a great success, A FIRST TIME. As I'm throwing all the balls back to the porch, Bradley runs after one and brings it back. This is the first time he has fetched a ball of his own volition and seemed to enjoy it. So after lots of praise, I throw it again. Success! Bradley continues to fetch the ball. I can't believe this! The retriever that I thought was broken. I hope that he will continue and learn to love fetching. After two hours of doggie adventure we are going inside to rest.
This is a dog's life.
video. video

Friday, February 19, 2010

Humane Society Needs Help

The Humane Society of Pulaski County needs your help. Many of you may have heard the news recently that a puppy mill breeder surrendered their dogs to the Humane Society. The shelter was already full of cats and dogs looking for good homes. For the second year, Just Dogs Gourmet (Chenal Promenade) will be collecting the following items from their wish list: blankets, towels, bedding, feeding bottles, stainless steel bowls, medicated shampoo, collars, harnesses, leashes, and toys. All items should be clean, free of holes or tears in the fabric, and in usable condition. Everyone donating at least three items will receive a 15% off entire purchase coupon. They will collect these items through February 24, 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lovable Lab Ranks #1

But will it last? For the 19th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America. It is reported that the German Shepherd is quickly gaining ground on the #1 spot. What? Is it the movie Marley & Me? Have people been deterred from the lab after seeing the havoc wreaked in the lives of the Grogans? I'll admit that labs have a predisposition to appear demon possessed. And puppyhood with a lab can be a hell of a ride. But admit, ladies, we all love a little bad boy. Seriously though, with minimal attention, exercise and training most of that behavior can be avoided. Still I ask, "Why?" In my, honestly limited, experience with German Shepherds it seems that most people are still afraid of them or at least have an extremely cautious respect for them. They are listed among the most aggressive dog breeds, as well as one of the breeds most likely to bite. Now, let me say, that I am not a proponent of "bad" dog breeds or even "bad" dogs. I believe that a dog's nurture is more responsible than nature for their behavior. Yes, you can remind me next time my dog takes off for your backyard and won't come back. However, I also believe in a genetic predisposition for certain behavioral characteristics. I am a firm believer in irresponsible pet owners. But back to the question posed. Why are German Shepherds quickly becoming the most popular dog breed? For our safety. Increases in security at airports, government buildings, etc. K-9 units are increasing their numbers. It is kind of sad though that the position of number #1 ranked dog may be obtained because of a threat to mankind. But then again, if there is a threat to man, who better to rise up and defend us than man's best friend? Lab's will always be #1 in my heart. But I will gladly give the title over to those who defend and keep us safe. Here's to our furry friends who serve and have served. Thank you.

If you are interested in adopting a retired military dog click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Walking Daddy

Bradley is getting to the stage where he needs a lot of exercise or he misbehaves. Mostly he barks at Brodie. It's the high-pitched, "play with me" bark. But a 70 pound lab is loud even when it uses a puppy bark. He still refuses to fetch so our main exercise for him is walking. Today he got 3 walks. Rob walked Bradley this morning. I walked both of them this afternoon and then Rob walked them both again this evening. It's amazing the difference in his behavior when he gets a walk.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update on Brodie

Brodie has been on the Prednisone for a little over a week now. We learned when Angus was on it, that is can make them a little neurotic. At times he seems very confused and paranoid. He is such an intelligent dog and I feel like he knows that he is not himself. Sometimes he doesn't even seem to understand what I'm saying when usually he understands everything. Brodie is definitely not feeling well. He is very irritable and will growl and snip at Bradley. He is very possessive of his ball and food jug. He has no interest in playing with Bradley. He wants more affection than normal which I am glad to give, except there is a giant green jealous monster named Bradley. We are not playing fetch much, just walking for exercise, to allow him to rest. But I think he is getting better. He has not thrown up at all since he's been on the medicine. He is already on the weening off period. I just can't wait for him to be off of it so we can get our Brodie back.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tips for Choosing a Pet Insurance Policy

After one week of investigating, interrogating, and deliberating we have chosen an insurance policy for Brodie. I would like to share some tips that I have learned so that it will help others who are trying to make this decision for their own pets.

Tips:
  • Visit http://petinsurancereview.com/ Give them your email address and they will send you 3 quotes from different companies
  • Visit the company's website. Read the entire site. Familiarize yourself with the policy and make a list of questions.
  • Call the company and interrogate them. Ask every question you can think of including why you should choose their policy.
  • There are discounts for purchasing online, but usually the rep will give you more if not all of the discounts over the phone because they are commission.
  • Get the name, direct phone number and hours of the person you spoke to. After all they are commission and they did help you. Purchase it from them.
  • Ask them to email you a policy for your to read. What is listed on the website is only a summary of the policy. You need the fine print before purchasing.
  • Learn the lingo. Know what all these terms mean. http://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/learn-about-pet-insurance/basics/pet-insurance-glossary.aspx
  • Read the reviews on http://petinsurancereview.com/ about the companies you are considering. Know what people are saying.
  • Know why you are purchasing your policy. What kind of coverage are you looking for.
  • Do not be upsold, i.e.I don't need a life insurance policy because a few hundred dollars will not help my grieving when my pet dies. I don't need benefits for breeding, etc.
  • Purchase your policies when your pets are young. Puppies are accident prone and older dogs have illnesses.
  • Do the math. For us, it is cheaper to buy the policy with increasing rates. When he is 12 we will have spent less than if we purchased the more expensive plan without increasing rates. Plus all of the plans have rate increases, just not every year.
  • Do not buy a policy after talking to just one company. Comparison shopping is a must. I didn't comparison shop much before we bought Brodie's first insurance policy and it was a nightmare.
  • Know what coverage you already have. Our HomeAgain membership covers up to $3,000 for injuries while they are lost.
Questions to ask:
  • Is the deductible annually or per incident?
  • Do the rates increase as the pet ages? How much? When were the last two times the rates did increase and how much?
  • Are we reimbursed the actual amount paid or what is deemed a reasonable and customary price for the service?
  • What is a preexisting condition?
  • How can we get continuous coverage for conditions that continue into the next policy period? AKA ongoing conditions
  • Does the plan cover hereditary conditions, genetic conditions, congenital conditions, annuals, vaccinations, preventative care, prescriptions, dental cleaning, boarding if we are hospitalized, vacation cancellation?
  • If it does not cover dental cleanings, will it cover any infections or tooth extractions etc. that are found during a dental cleaning?
  • Are their discounts for multi-pet plans or pets that are microchipped, neutered, or service dogs?
  • Is there a discount for paying annually instead of monthly?
  • What amount are we reimbursed? How long does it take to receive reimbursement?
  • What is the reimbursement limit?
  • Is the limit per incident, policy period or lifetime?
  • What is the effective date?
  • What is the waiting period for accidents? for illnesses?
I hope that this has helped you in choosing a health insurance plan for your pet. Maybe he or she live a long, healthy and happy life.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homemade Dog Toy


Pictured to the left is a toy that sells for $6.99. It's braided fleece. Well we have some fleece blanket that Brodie chewed holes all in as a puppy. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to repurpose them. So I just cut our fleece blankie into 3 strips. Tied one end, braided and tied the other end. Voila! New tug toy. Next time I may try to tie it so that it will have a loop to hold onto or even try to go through one of our chew toys similar to the Kong Tails. Here are pictures of our toy with the boys checking it out for the first time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dentist Recommended Chuck-It Ultra Ball

Brodie's dentist told us that the tennis ball was wearing away the tips of his teeth. He said the fuzz on the outside of a tennis ball is abrasive and it acts like sandpaper filing away their teeth. At the time he was only 2 years old and we could already see the tips of his teeth are getting worn. The dentist said to use a rubber ball instead. Of course, we are addicted to our chuck it ball launcher. So, we bought these rubber balls that fit in the launcher. LOVE IT! Warning, they are super bouncy and will go into your neighbors yard, so either make good friends with them or find your sweet spot in the yard. He loves how they bounce all over the place. He doesn't ever sit down and chew on it though, so I can't say how durable it would be for a strong chewer, which he is. And they clean off so easy. He drops it in his water bowl and its brand new. It's much funner and more durable than a tennis ball. We're saving money with these balls as long as you don't lose them. All the money I've spent over the years on tennis balls will now be put to better use. Now the Chuck It balls even come in recycled material, the whistler or glow in the dark. My dog's teeth are healthier and he's happier.

Pros: Good for teeth, super bouncy, easy clean, long lasting

Cons: Yet to be determined

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Run, Bradley, Run!

Bradley doesn't run very often. But the other day when I was on poop patrol he did. See, I walk the yard bagging as I throw Brodie's ball because I'm a multi-tasker. Bradley's favorite thing to do is keep the ball away from Brodie while he's trying to fetch. It drives Brodie nuts. Usually Bradley just moves around a little but today he got a burst of energy and actually ran. I had to stop what I was doing and get it on video. Enjoy because you may never see it again.
video

Monday, February 8, 2010

Powder

OK. We finally got some real snow. It was so nice to have powder and no ice. The boys did enjoy it. Bradley had more fun. Brodie is still not feeling well, but he wanted to play. He would run a little and then stop and look at me pitifully like "That doesn't feel good." So Bradley had to harass everyone into playing with him. He started with Brodie, then went to the dog across the back fence whom he has never approached before that I know of. Then he went inside the garage to Chloe cat's little house. She was all snugged up in her blankets staying warm and Bradley was scratching at her door trying to get her to come out and play. Then later while playing in the front yard, he found her watching from the dryness under the eaves. She still didn't want to play. But he had a great day. This time we didn't even try to leave home, so there were no long walks in the snow. But all in all it was a good day.

The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller


The Loved Dog: The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior by Tamar Geller.

"Tamar Geller's mission in life is to teach her cruelty-free method of "life coaching" for dogs and their people. Her revolutionary play-training uses mutual understanding and respect -- and puts an end to outdated methods that rely on physical exhaustion, choke chains, prong collars, dominance rollovers, or stressful aggression of any kind." read more on the website.

This is one of my favorite books of all, fiction or non-fiction. It is so good. I loved the information. She studied wolves in the wild and teaches you to interact with you dogs in a way that mimics what happens in the pack in the wild. She shows you how to be the alpha leader that they follow because they respect you not because they fear you which makes for a healthier more loving relationship. It was so interesting to see the games played in the wild are all about who is alpha. I really came to respect the way she interacts with the dogs. I've tried her methods and they worked. This is my favorite way to train a dog. It's not the only way and I have trained under other methods, but if given the choice (by the dog's temperament) I would always train with fun. This is the first book that I recommend to people when they ask me how we train. I look forward to other books from her.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brodie's Sick Again

Most of you know that Brodie has always struggled with his stomach. In May he began a prescription dog food, i/d, and so far it has worked really well. He has been on a strict diet for food allergies. But this weekend he began to throw up during the night. He has thrown up four nights this week. Thankfully, for my wallet, his semi-annual check-up was today. When we weighed in, Brodie had lost an additional 5 pounds which makes a weight loss of 8 pounds since May. That's a lot for a dog his size. The doctor revisited the idea that he may have Addison's disease. But the test is expensive, over $200. And sometimes you get a false negative which means that if he continues to have symptoms he will have to retest, another $200+. So before we do the test we are going to do a run of steroids. Then he will have to be off the steroids for 2 weeks before he can take the test. This will give us time to look into pet insurance. Brodie did have insurance, but they denied so many claims that I canceled it. So now I need to find another one before the test. That way he doesn't already have a diagnoses and therefore a preexisting condition which would not be covered. If Brodie does test positive for Addison's disease then he will be on medication for the rest of his life. This episode may have been triggered by a piece of Bradley's treat that Brodie got about a week ago. That was the first night he threw up and it could just still be working it's way out of his system. So we're going to take this medicine, check on insurance and then the next time he gets sick we will take the test for Addison's disease. That's all I can really write about it right now because I'm a little foggy headed. But I will post with updates.

Brodie was being scheduled for his dental cleaning, but will have to postpone until he is no longer vomiting to decrease the risk of his aspirating while he is under during the cleaning procedure.

Although Bradley did not have a check up today he weighed in at 64.8 pounds.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Delivery!

We were coming home from an outing. I let the dogs out of the car. I hear Brodie barking and I turn around to see the UPS man returning from my neighbor's house. Actually, I turned to see the UPS man running to his truck and Brodie chasing him. Brodie stopped at the edge of our yard. The UPS man didn't turn around to look until he was in his truck and then saw Brodie, "Oh, I know you." Of course, I apologized, as always. Poor man, I would say he almost had a heart attack, but from the way he ran I'd say he's in pretty good shape.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude

The crazy squirrel dude by Premier. This is our favorite toy company. People always mentioned Kong as the best dog toy maker, but this company is better, in our opinion. This squirrel should be your first toy purchased for a new puppy. This squirrel is one of the only toys that we left with our lab puppy Brodie in his kennel while we were gone. He destroyed everything, but not this. It is very sturdy. Brodie is 3 1/2 years old and so far he has not destroyed it. We had the medium size when he was a pup and now we've bought the large. When I saw how much he loved it, I ran out and bought another for backup. However, we haven't needed it. This is a really strong toy. This is his pacifier. We put kibbles in it when we lock him in his crate. After he finishes getting them all out he goes right to sleep. What I like about this toy is the little rubber prongs that keep the treats from coming out all at once. You can cut the prongs to customize. I recommend starting with the smallest food or treats you can find until they get strong enough to really squeeze it open and then you can use larger pieces. But don't overfill it. If they can't squeeze it or the food can't move around then it can't come out and it's really hard to get it out. I had to soak it until the food was soft and then dig it out. Yuck! The Kong toys have a large opening and the treats just fall out. But this takes time, patience and some intelligence. It keeps them occupied. Highly recommend this toy for strong chewers. In fact, so far, I have purchased this toy for 3 other puppies as birthday gifts.

Pros: Very durable, Keeps 'em occupied, Promotes learning, Strengthens jaws, Dishwasher safe

Cons: Only comes in purple or orange. Orange is difficult to find. I get orange at Academy Sports.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pucker Up!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Seriously! Our first dog, Angus, taught us a lot about good dental care in dogs. He suffered quite a bit due to poor dental hygiene, possibly even losing his sense of smell due to an infection that had made it's way into his sinuses. I knew then that I would start my puppies out with at least an attempt at better dental hygiene. Unfortunately pets lose teeth and sometimes their lives because of periodontal diseases that are for the most part preventable. And it's so easy to brush their teeth if approached in a loving and patient manner. Also, never use human toothpaste. Consider that your dog cannot rinse and spit. Human toothpaste was not meant to be swallow and can make dogs very ill. You can buy special toothpaste specifically for your dog. In addition to brushing the boys' teeth, we use Science Diet's t/d as treats. It helps to clean the teeth because when they bite into it the tooth is momentarily stuck in it, being scraped on it's way free. T/d can be purchased at your vet's office. When your dogs do begin to develop tartar it's time to start getting yearly teeth cleanings by a Veterinary Dentist. For most dogs, this is around about a year old, but for Brodie it was 3 because of his good dental practices. Bradley will probably be much sooner since he didn't take to all this as well (previous post.) Also ask your vet about the Porphyromonas Bacterin vaccine for periodontis which is the first and only vaccine to aid in the prevention of canine periodontitis which affects 85% of dogs over 3 years of age.

So make a plan for your pup's dental health. And remember, the best part about a dog with a clean mouth is that the kisses are all that much sweeter. And chances are, you'll get to enjoy those kisses for a lot longer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Day

This was Brodie in his first snow in 2007. He loves some powder.

Brodie went nuts when he first experienced the snow. Crazy Eyes!
This is our sweet Angus in 2007.

We finally got some snow this year. This is Bradley's first snow. It's not the best snow because it was icing a couple of days before and then just snowed last night. So it's a hard sheet of ice underneath and light snow. The first thing Brodie did when he went out was to run to his soccer ball. But it was frozen so he couldn't bite it to pick it up. They both slipped a little at first, but Brodie quickly adapted. In just a couple of minutes he looked like he had grown up on the ice. It was funny to hear them running around, sliding. They were clicking their claws. It sounded like they were ice skaters. Once Brodie was able to pick up the ball he ran for the house like, "I'm going to take this inside and let it thaw out." Bradley didn't react like Brodie had when he first saw snow. I remember Brodie went nuts. Of course it was all the soft powder under his feet, kicking up. Angus just stared at Brodie like, "What? Haven't you ever seen snow?" The bottom picture is of Brodie's first snow and his reaction to it.