I've got a number of posts to do so decided to kind of split them up a bit here so I don't bore everyone. This one is canine related (as you might have guessed).
MT Waggin-land is busy even with the loss of our beloved Bandit. Hospice care still goes on for my other 2 seniors and Magic I am starting to see fail and don't think he will be with us terribly much longer either, but then, he may surprise me. He just is struggling with losing his sight as well as instability in his rear legs and what I suspect is some CCD (canine cognitive disorder). I already have a gut feeling he isn't going to be one that will go as peacefully as his brother. So we take it a day at a time. Dot meanwhile still plods along, totally blind and deaf but still up moving around and yelling for her food most mealtimes. The photo below is BEFORE her bath and haircut - which everyone got a few weeks ago....
All the dogs got their first sun bathing chance out on the front deck recently and then, well it turned cold again. Needless to say when the wood stove isn't burning, the heated dog beds (we have 3) are the favorite napping spots! Luckily it was warm enough for me to get the front deck cleaned off (yes this IS cleaned off), the rugs laid out and the dog beds put down. New "fencing" however was required after Dot walked right off the edge of the deck within her first 3 minutes. It isn't an every day place so I'm sure she just doesn't remember. So some short expen fence fixed that problem (with a couple of boards where it wouldn't reach.
The other bonus to warmer weather (and that most of the snow is gone now) is that the dog door is open for their convenience (after some repairs) and with a little shoveling and an hour of fence repairs, the "back 40" is also open for business (the poodles LOVE that!).
My front yard is all melted off which is definitely a big bonus for training. Epic is entered in both Rally (Excellent) and Novice Obedience in a few weeks so along with classes once a week we are desperately trying to get in some practice for that. Still have a few hiccups in some areas and I have NO idea how he is going to handle switching gears from Rally one round (where I can talk to him and we do more "trick" stuff) to formal obedience the next (no talking). We shall see. I keep telling myself that if I can put a CD on a weimaraner and a xolo I can certainly manage it with a poodle! We also have some agility coming up the weekend after that. Nope, not one iota of practice but we are going to go have fun anyway and support the club! I'm totally okay with the ensuing train wreck!
Sterling is all scheduled out for the next few months with his therapy visits and in the meantime is just hanging loose, playing some games and trying to get back at Epic for all the evil things he does to him when they are outside. They are both thrilled I have the big yard opened up so they can run up there.
Tinker is also doing really well. Her skin is improving and then has setbacks but I feel we are on the right track. She is goofy and silly and loves to go for rides, walks and REALLY loves to go in the bedroom and do trick training stuff. She ALSO is in love with any visitors and especially Auntie Adele who did her first ever massage and JSJ session recently!
Our other big change has been in dog food. I have friends (Nancy and Libby) who are impressive dog food diet experts. Now I'm no dummy and I've gone back and forth with feeding raw to my dogs (and dehydrated raw) for many years. It just wasn't something that I could sustain financially or time wise with the number of dogs I had. With our numbers sadly dwindling and more and more options out there for feeding I decided to once again start evaluating what I was feeding. Now I have to say that for the most part my dogs have lived long full healthy lives on dry kibble (super high quality) and are doing okay on what they get now (Petcurean brand) but I really felt I could do better and I knew that back when I was feeding dehydrated or raw they did even better. I picked up a couple of books on canine nutrition and started reading. I HIGHLY recommend these books (which were also recommended to me) and you can find them on Amazon (or other book sellers) as ebooks or print copies. The first one is a great read for many of the stories she tells and the second is by Dr. Dodds, pioneering doctor for vaccination research and nutrition. Neither are written in "medical-ese" as I won't read that stuff.
I made an appointment with friend Libby to discuss diet options and get some of my questions answered. Tinker will be raw fed forever most likely as she is intolerant of so many ingredients that are dumped into dry kibble as fillers and such. I took along Tinker's test results and also some general questions. I had spent a week doing The Math to figure out if the raw prepared food (includes everything they need) would be cost effective vs what I would need to feed for super high quality canned food (yup, reading the books actually they recommend high quality canned) vs the kibble I was feeding. The Math showed that to feed canned say to just the poodles was going to cost virtually the same as the suggested amount of raw they need (2% per pound of weight-ish to start). Same was determined for The Math to feed the dehydrated food I use (NRG USA) and it too came out the same (will be great options for variety or travel though). As for the kibble vs raw, well of course it is more....WAY more but I determined I could budget appropriately and be able to use kibble (something I learned was not the horrible thing we were told back in the day when raw feeding started - thanks Libby) for the times I can't afford to do raw, or that it just isn't convenient (like when we take our vacations and I don't have a place to put 40 pounds of frozen food).
I started with the little dogs and all but one was put on raw along with Tinker mid February. The littles all switched over swimmingly so this month is our trial run for everyone!
Bonus alert, the poops are SERIOUSLY smaller (always good to have less poop patrol) once they get adjusted AND they don't stink to high heaven. Read the books to learn why (all about that species appropriate diet). I also learned from Libby that since I'm doing prepared raw vs the carcas feeding I was doing before I don't have to mess around with a ton of additional supplements and worry about imbalances. Yes I still have some supplemental items I'm giving (fish oil, tumeric, coconut oil, pumpkin as needed for the ones that get stopped up easily) but they aren't every day and they are readily available. Heck, I was doing those with their kibble anyway.
So not a sales pitch but I do think MAYBE I've found an option for feeding raw. I will report back later on how things are going on that front. Oh and if you wanted to know I'm feeding Northwest Naturals raw - made in the USA. Something I've fed the nuggets of off and on since they came out. Am also every other week or so adding some Answers Raw Cows or Goats Milk to everyone but Tinker (who is super sensitive to any dairy including yogurt). To get some of that good nutrient in her system Libby recommended Marine Phytoplankton (you will read about that in the books above too) since any dairy seems to set her off.
My other hope is that food without all the preservatives and chemicals might also help Louie. He's been a challenge with some of his emotional stuff (quite hyperactive at times) so we shall see what happens there. It has already helped Teddy with much of his anxiety that I was seeing before (and have for years). Time will tell and I promise to spare you any poop pictures! LOL Everyone always says my pets eat better than I do!