Monthly Archives: February 2010

Vote to protect your dog against BSL

Pit Bull Rescue Central posted a very important article yesterday about a program being run by Change.org. The “Ideas for Change” competition lets the community propose and vote for ideas across 20 different social issues where they’d like to see change in this country. The top 3 from each category will be voted on, and the top 10 will go before relevant officials in the Obama administration.

Under the animals category, it has been proposed to ban Breed Specific Legislation – and this is currently in 5th place in the category!

Those of us with pit bulls know how important this is in our dogs’ lives – the ability to protect them from future legislation against them is huge.

Even those who aren’t fans of the breed should realize that banning the breed does nothing to prevent dog bites (as has been proven in communities where this legislation has been enacted). Furthermore, BSL only hurts law-abiding owners, who don’t own the problem dogs in the first place.

I urge you to visit http://www.change.org/ideas/view/ban_breed_specific_legislation and vote. It only takes a minute to do so.

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Happy “gotcha day,” Maggie!

It was exactly 5 years ago today that we brought home our Maggie. I don’t write about Maggie as much as I probably should. It’s not that I don’t love her – in fact it’s the opposite. It’s just that she’s so easy, she blends into our lives so seamlessly. She is the type of dog that any dog owner could have and succeed with. She’s fairly well-mannered, doesn’t need a ton of exercise, and gets along with all dogs. As Stewie has proven himself to be less dog tolerant as he matures, I can definitely say I’ve come to appreciate that last point. Maggie could get along with Cujo, she’s so great with other dogs. We’ve had to deal with crating and rotating one of our fosters because the foster didn’t get along with Stewie, but I have never worried about Maggie. Maggie’s like the responsible older sister to Stewie. I can count on her.

Maggie was our first dog as adults. Hubby and I both had family dogs as kids, but we definitely learned a lot with Maggie. Sure, we did stupid stuff in the beginning. For starters, we got her way too young. She was only 7 weeks old when we brought her home. The woman at the rescue said the mother had stopped nursing the pups, but knowing what I know now, I know she definitely could have benefitted from that continued socialization with her littermates for at least another week or two. Holy cow, we were so not prepared to be puppy parents. We were living in a third floor apartment in the city, and dogs were strictly prohibited from riding in the elevators. I have vivid memories of scooping up puppy and racing down the hall and down the stairs in the middle of the night during the potty training phase. Hell, our first night we didn’t even have a crate for her. we thought she would be fine in a laundry basket next to our bed. Waking up at 2 a.m. to the sound of her having explosive diarrhea on our bedroom floor made me realize we desperately needed a crate, which we purchased the next day.

Eventually I realized if we were going to raise this puppy right, we would need to become more educated ourselves. Off to the Internet I went, and I haven’t stopped learning since. I became obsessed with learning more and more, and that’s when I realized just how dog-crazy I was. I couldn’t get enough, and committed myself to learning as much as I could about dog behavior, training and the problems of animal overpopulation. That led to volunteer work, and well, the rest is history. How time flies! On the one hand, it’s hard to belive it was only 5 years ago that I was such a “green” dog owner, but on the other hand, I can’t believe we’ve had Maggie for 5 years! It seems like yesterday she was a teeny tiny puppy.

With that, I leave you with some of my favorite photos of Maggie through the years…

Maggie, the day we brought her home

Getting bigger...

Bratty teenager

Looking like a big girl

@#$%?!

Say what?

First time in the water

Sleepover with her friend Parker

Pretty girl

Merry Christmas

Maggie and my parents' dog, Sadie

Ready for Apple Cup - Go Cougs!

With her new brother, Stewie

With brother Stewie and foster sister Josie

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Food for thought…

One of the more confusing parts of dog ownership has got to be nutrition. Just take a look at any commercial for one of the major dog food brands, boasting choice cuts of meat, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Truth in advertising? Nope.

Unfortunately, the reality is, most of the major dog food brands you see in commercials are complete and utter crap. To make matters even more confusing, vets don’t receive a ton of training on nutrition, and what little they do is often funded by Hills. How’s that for an unbiased source? So that Hills Science Diet your vet recommends (and conveniently sells right there in the office)? Yep, they’re profiting from that recommendation.

So if you can’t trust what you see on TV and you can’t trust your vet (for the most part – though there are awesome vets out there who don’t peddle that crap), then how is the Average Joe supposed to know what to feed his dog?

To be fair, feeding your dog a low-quality food probably won’t kill him (unless of course they’re involved in one of the many scary pet food recalls as of late. But that’s a whole ‘nother post…). But feeding a low-quality food is sort of like feeding your kids fish sticks and hot dogs… which is okay in moderation, but not twice a day, every day. If you’re feeding a low-quality food, eventually that’s going to take a toll on your dog’s body.

One of my favorite Web sites for dog nutrition (which I’ve already referenced in several links in this post) is dogfoodanalysis.com. This site includes objective, third-party evaluations of just about every dog food on the market, without the influence of the marketing dollars from the big companies and the kickbacks your veterinarian receives.

It’s a lot of information to take in, but as a rule of thumb, I only feed foods that are 4 stars or higher (it goes up to 6 stars, but for a multi-dog household with large dogs, that can get quite pricey).

But if you find yourself in the pet food store and can’t remember how a particular food ranked, remember these 5 things:

  1. First ingredient should be a named meat source (e.g., duck, lamb, chicken). Be wary of any mystery meat. If they don’t name the meat, it could actually be partially made up of euthanized dogs and cats.
  2. Avoid any animal “byproducts.” While byproducts could include organ meats (which are good for dogs), all too often “byproduct” is a blanket term for hooves, beaks and other parts of the animal that were discarded as unfit for human consumption.
  3. Avoid corn. It’s a cheap filler that has no nutritional value for a dog. Basically goes in one end and comes right out the other. Not to mention it’s one of the most common allergens. A hallmark of a crappy food is one that uses corn, and with many cheap foods, it’s the first ingredient listed.
  4. Anything you can find in the grocery store is crap, and most of the brands you’ll find at the big box pet stores are only slightly more expensive crap. While there are exceptions to this rule, your best bet is shopping at boutique pet supply stores or feed stores.
  5. Don’t focus solely on the price of the bag. A higher quality food is going to be more expensive, but it’s also going to be higher in calories, which means you feed less. For example the recommended feeding guidelines for a 50 lb. dog eating Innova EVO is 2 cups per day, whereas the guidelines for the same size dog eating Pedigree suggest 4 cups per day!

Anyone who’s ever switched a dog from low to high quality food can vouch for the benefits. In addition to giving your dog a longer, healthier life, you’re going to almost immediately notice a softer, less greasy coat, less shedding, less bathing, better smelling breath, and smaller, less frequent, less stinky poop.

I don’t know about you, but that last one alone would be enough to make me switch!

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