Saturday, July 30, 2011

So…what DO I feed my dogs?

An assortment of food, that’s what!

The Animal Naturals and Brewers yeast and Garlic is in powder form so I soak their food with the vitamins on it.  At their evening meal I make enough for morning and then stuff some in a Kong, put it in a stainless steel bowl, put some more liquid around it if needed and freeze it!  Do they love that!

What don’t I feed my dogs…  kibble other than Flint River Ranch and especially kibble that has “byproducts” in the ingredients, regular dog biscuits (I say “no thank you” at the bank), grapes, raisins, chocolate, cooked bones and rawhide, greenies and that kind of pet store treat…

So here are some pictures.  Brita would gulp her food all the time and Jake was starting to do it also.  I saw the picture of the dog bowl to slow down eating for I can’t remember how many $$ and thought it looked remarkably like a ring pan so off to the thrift shop I go.  It kinda worked but do you know how quickly a German Shepherd can destroy one of those aluminum pans??   Then I can across a bundt pan – solid, won’t scratch and has little crevices that make it hard to get the food out and WOW..  this is my favorite!!  Under $1 at St. Vinnies!  My second favorite is below but it’s lots easier for the dogs to eat fast so…  again…  to slow them down… Kongs to the rescue!  Now they each get a kong in their dish filled with food in addition to one in the morning!


Slow feed dog bowl    Ring mold for coffee cake     IMAG0427   


IMAG0432       IMAG0428       


That’s about it!  If I forgot something I’m sure I’ll remember it after I’ve gone to bed!

As a post script.  Brita used to be really stressed at mealtime – pretty much drove me nuts.  Kobie would sit at the kitchen counter (in a beautiful sit I might add) staring at her food bowl as the enzymes for her pancreatic insufficiency soaked into her food.  The dynamics in my house have now changed without Kobie and Brita will “settle” quietly in the kitchen along with Jake while I prepare the food…  interesting, huh?

3-1-12  As another post script – all those bowls above – done – gone – chewed…  This is the latest….  Nordicware classic – platinum collection heavy duty… made of “Heavy Cast Aluminum”  he has yet to make a dent in it!!   And I’ve become the queen of freezing kongs with food in them!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It was an interesting evening…

….the weather was beautiful…  no 100 degree heat index and minimal mosquitoes a rarity these last few weeks.   And it was EAA week – that’s Experimental Aircraft Association to you non-Wisconsin folk.  What that means is that little Oshkosh Wisconsin’s airport becomes the busiest airport in the world for a week as half a million people descend on the town to look at…  well.. experimental airplanes.  Not bad for a town of 66,000 people!   Years ago, I volunteered for the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau and greeted people arriving at the Appleton airport for the week and a 2 hour stint gave me free transportation to the EAA plus free admission to the event AND to the flight line… which means nothing to most people but I got to walk around all the planes along with the people who knew something about them.  My favorite part was the air show and the my favorite of all the performances was in 1986 when the  Italian aerobatic display team Frecce Tricolori performed. (ok…. no I didn’t remember who they were but the internet is a wonderful thing isn’t it for research!)

Meanwhile… back on the ranch..  …well not a ranch but you know what I mean…    I thought maybe with my long lens I could get some pictures of planes since they fly over my house on occasion.  What I learned tonight:

  • I really need to learn more about my camera.  It wouldn’t auto focus on planes in the air and I have no idea what the other settings mean!  So…  switch to dogs…
  • When you have the long lens on the camera and decide to then take pictures of dogs, they have to be AWAY from you – not hanging out at your feet.   OK then…  flowers….
  • Again… distance for flowers…  now I could have come into the house and switched to another lens but that thought didn’t occur to me until much later!

Regardless, the flowers were coming up nicely and the dogs were just happy that it was a nice evening to be outside.    Olivia seemed a bit stressed but then not being able to hear and see well would stress me out a bit!  The photo of the evening I believe was the head shot of Jake below.  He is such a handsome dude, don’t you think?  Smile


2011.7.27 dogs and flowers-2         2011.7.27 dogs and flowers-7         2011.7.27 dogs and flowers-6





Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wrap up your dog…

….hhhmmm…..  for what you ask??  for noise phobia such as thunderstorms or fireworks or for stress or anxiety.  I hear these days about the new “Thundershirt”…  hhmm…  catchy name so people think the concept is new. 

In…ohh..  lets say sometime around 2002 I read about the Anxiety Wrap and purchased one for Josephine who was and has been the only dog of the 8 that I’ve had recently that had a thunderstorm  or fireworks phobia.  Please read about it here:  The Anxiety Wrap and how it works.

Prior to that I had read about Linda Tellington’s TTouch Bodywork and how to “wrap” a dog and even bought a videotape of how to do it. Here is more information including pictures or “wrapped” dogs.  Other links I found interesting were Linda’s extensive background with horses and Linda’s more recent information100_4250 including her BLOG.  She has been working on dogs since the 1980s.  Anyway, like I said..  I bought an Anxiety Wrap which I guess is comparable to buying potato salad in the deli instead of making my own!!  Smile  That was 2002.

I found various used for it other than the noise or anxiety (which, by the way, I think it really did help in those situations).  When Teddy had hip surgery  he refused to move (seriously would sit for hours in the same place) when I put the Elizabethan (cone) collar on him so I had to figure out something else to do…  enter the Anxiety Wrap that had been packed away for a few years.   Because it didn’t cover totally where he had the surgery I had to improvise to covDSC04471er that area…  well, let’s just say – a picture is worth a thousand words…. (please don’t laugh..  I don’t take my dogs in public looking like this!  ..  ok..  snicker then..) 

And then there was Ari who was a very long dog and he had a lump removed from his rump, the collar wasn’t good enough because he could still reach it so again I pulled out the Anxiety Wrap.  Yet again a picture is worth a thousand words.  Nothing really phased image1-1him.  Little did I know that perhaps a Band-Aid would have been sufficient.

So now, there is  the Thundershirt.  Same concept – different name.  There is also the Storm Defender.

What would I do now?  First I would go to a thrift shop and get a t-shirt that is in good shape and would fit rather snug but not too tight on my dog.  Then I would get some wide wrap (self adhering) and would read the directions online to do it myself.  (Hmm… guess I’m making that potato salad now..)

Here, by the way, is one person’s opinion on the Thundershirt vs. the Anxiety Wrap.  I can’t make the comparison because I haven’t used both but this person has.  However, Thundershirt’s ties to the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) would make me NOT want to buy anything from them…  but THAT is WHOLE other post!


Ari again.. 
don’t know why this time but it must have been during hunting season
because his reflective coat is over it!



Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's never easy....

....saying goodbye...  When one person grieves the loss of a dog we all grieve.   We remember past losses and what we went through during those times.  Grief is like an injury that heals over time but forever changes us.  This weekend Marilyn Tokach, who has helped so many people through the hard times when they were saying goodbye,  lost her special friend, Portia.  Please click here to read her tribute to Portia and about their life together.   Marilyn's tribute to Portia.

Portia  RIP Miss Portia

May 8, 2000 - July 15, 2011

Somewhere a journey begins at the end of the worldly existence we know,
Somewhere a path stretches over the stars and rivers of memories flow…
Somewhere a silence is heard far away and the brightness of day fills the night,
Where the trials of life are resolved into peace when a soul finds its way to the light.






Sunday, July 10, 2011

So I said to myself….

…as I walked in the kitchen from my deck dripping wet, unable to see because the Skin-so-Soft 2010.5.15 Jake.Brita-a fun weekend-71oil I had put on my arms to ward off mosquitoes for only a short time was mixed with water and smudged on my glasses…

…self… sometimes you have good common sense and other times….  well… what happened…  who knows…

To start… Jake has a chiropractor appointment tomorrow so I thought I would give him a bath since I couldn’t remember the last time he had one…  or maybe he hasn’t since he was a puppy and I dropped him off at my friend’s grooming shop for his first experience with a groomer.  He’s a dog that just doesn’t seem dirty… brushing.. yes..  bath… no…

So I brought the grooming table, the ramp and the brushes out on the deck, hooked up 2 arms to restrain him around the neck and under the body – one at either end of the table, pulled the hose through the sunroom from the outside faucet and got Jake who was eyeing up the hose, up on the table.  Brushing went ok – usually does…. tonight however he is a tad fixated on the hose nozzle.  Told him to wait while I turned the water on as I backed up to the faucet so he is not out of my vision. He hears the water and starts getting REALLY excited.  Here’s where common sense was nowhere around.  I should have stopped right there but NOOOO…..  I start to hose him down and am VERY quickly reminded of how much he likes to EAT the water coming out of the nozzle… which, by the way, iis in my hand.

So…. did I forget that picture above from a year ago and this post… A fun weekend for Jake and Brita ….  or this one..   Jake got his first hosing … apparently I did forget! 

I discovered that if I hold him tight and put the nozzle right on his body I can soak him.  ok..  now the shampoo… not so bad since the hose is off.  Shampooing went as well as can be expected.  Turned the hose on again and ….oh my…. was he excited.  Push the nozzle to his body while holding him in a headlock….  one side done.  Release him from the death grip..  ok… he pulled away…  go to the other side of the table and he turns with me so I’m looking at the side of him that was already rinsed…. then his head comes our of the noose and he swings around…. struggled and got him hooked back up and pushed the nozzle against his body to try to finish rinsing…  got that side…  well that didn’t sound so bad…  well it took about 10 minutes so not as quick as I would have liked.  …thought I was done…

Ohhhh …NOOOO…  why did I shampoo his TAIL!!! Remember I’ve been successful because I have been able to push the nozzle against his body….  it’s not happening with his tail…   5 minutes later we’re done… I unhook him.. (blind now remember because of the oil and water mix on my glasses) … let him off and drag myself into the house dripping wet….

….and on the way to the computer to write this up I grab a Mike’s Hard Limeade…   Now where is Lisa’s number??  (Lisa’s Pet Grooming) 

And as a ps……  insult to injury…  in he comes… right up to me and…  you guessed it…  shakes more water off!!

2010.5.15 Jake.Brita-a fun weekend-14

Kefir… what the heck is Kefir???

Friends ask…  “what do you feed your dogs??”  Along with many other things I mention Kefir.  Kefir??  What the heck is kefir?  Yogurt on steroids, I say. huh?   Keeee-fer is the way I’ve always said it..  then I had a Russian gal in my class not long ago and I ask her if she was familiar with Keeee-fer and she looked at me puzzled and then said OOHH..  Ke-FEAR…  who knew?  …no one ever spoke the word to me… 

If all you want is “The Rest of the Story” scroll down and you’ll skip
“The Journey” and simply read about “The Destination”

Anyway, it all started for a dog (Kobie) who was diagnosed with Pancreatic Insufficiency.  As I started researching enzymes, probiotics, etc. I came across Kefir.   This was, if I recall correctly, in 2007.  So I bought some at the grocery store…  hmm thick.. very expensive and not what I would give to dogs.  So I went to the health food store and got some “starter”… little did I know what a poor substitute this was for the real thing… wonder I never liked it.   So I made it and gave it to the dogs for a a few months and then stopped for a few years.  Recently for other dog reasons (bloat) I looked into it again but this time bought some grains from The Kefir Lady who shipped them to me.  (by the way… don’t by grains..  they multiply and I have lots!! …when I get too many, the dogs get them in their food (lucky dogs, huh?) but I’d be willing to share.)   Anyway, when they arrived, I looked at them and thought hhhmm….  this is going to be interesting!

Several other websites I found helpful are The Happy Herbalist and Dom’s Kefir site but there are lots out there including two yahoo discussion groups, and

The health benefits of this amazing drink are all over the web but click here for a good link to check them out.

So I’ll try now to show you what I do and will add some things that I discovered.  First…  you have grains, they look like cauliflower and they keep you in business, so to speak!  The amount in the first photo is what I put into one jar of milk is shown.  I generally do two batches at a time. Let it sit for 12-24 hours (more about that in “Things I’ve Learned”) and then pour through a strainer and put in containers for storage..  or drinking whichever comes first..  although I do like it cold! I’m writing this, by the way, in December 2010. 

IMAG0091   IMAG0090   IMAG0088   IMAG0093 (2)   IMAG0094 

So now…   things I’ve learned:
  • If at first you don’t like it… give it to the dogs.. they like anything and that’s how it got started anyway. It gets better I promise.  Just don’t QUIT!
  • Keep it out of reach of the dogs. (need I say more??  …see photo where it’s on refrigerator.  Now I put it in the oven….no the oven is NOT on!)
  • Listen to and read what others have to say:
    • Grains need to grow and if there are too many grains for the amount of milk you are using, it will separate and taste terrible (my words).    What should you do…  use fewer grains or more milk…  duh…
    • The longer you let it sit, the more it will separate so don’t forget about it.
  • I don’t really like it without doctoring it up..  lately it’s kind of good when I taste it and I can tell the difference between batches but I still don’t drink it straight.
  • Do NOT (I repeat NOT) heat it.  I thought “what could happen”.. it’s hard to explain..  stringy, yucky.. even tried on oatmeal – won’t do that again.  Maybe you should try it just once, however, to see what I mean.  :)
  • I don’t know anyone who has a cow, nor do I have a cow, nor do I really want a cow for fresh raw milk. Ditto that for goats. I find that regular store bought milk works fine.  Actually I use powdered milk and add more powder than they call for and it gets creamier.  Apparently, I’m not a purist.
  • All is not lost if it really separates… the dogs don’t care, that’s what makes the best cheese and it’s just fine in smoothies! (see photo of refrigerator door with 3 bottles – one batch separated and the other didn’t separate)
  • If it separates and you shake it be aware that it’s like shaking a soda and it will fizz and maybe even pop the top off. 
  • Summer and winter are different – right?  Remember:  the warmer it is, the faster it processes.  During the winter I put a refrigerator bulb in my oven and put the kefir there to help it along.  I’m told kefir likes the temperature to be in the 70s..   don’t we all?? 
  • Ways I’ve consumed it:
    • Added baking cocoa and stevia to a bottle to taste… yum …chocolate milk. (update on that…  it’s only Nestle’s Quik now…  my favorite chocolate flavor!)
    • Froze some of the chocolate milk and then blended it and voilĂ  …. a icy drink! (can’t wait till summer!)
    • Eggnog – half and half with the real stuff..low fat of course!  Added some blackberry brandy..  yum.. (at least I think so..)
    • Added some eggnog to the chocolate slush…blend..a smoothie..  (Eggnog - can you tell it’s Christmas, huh?)
    • Smoothies..  pictured is a chocolate one and another blended with frozen berries.
    • You know all those coffee flavorings out there today..  if you’re into them I’ll bet they would make it taste REAL good!  French Vanilla, Chocolate Mint, Hazelnut…
    • Cereal… poured over cereal with stevia sweetener. (no hot cereal please)
    • And then there is cream cheese and parmesan cheese. The cream cheese could be flavored any way you choose. (chocolate… ooohhh)  I’m addicted to it on my peanut butter and jelly rice cake (organic of course) for breakfast.  And what is left over when you strain the kefir is the whey which I bottle and pour over the dogs food. (see photo with red funnel and then bottles of clearer liquid.
    • AND sour cream!  I mixed 3 parts kefir to 1 part sour cream and just used it for a dip or with an avocado dip or bean dip and tostados.
2010-11-23 17.49.48  2010-11-23 17.52.07  2010-11-23 17.52.33  IMAG0084 IMAG0086  IMAG0083   2010-11-23 18.14.34    IMAG0112  IMAG0095   IMAG0096    IMAG0105    IMAG0149    IMAG0158  

So there you have it!  Lots of trial and error for me!  The good thing is that nothing is wasted when you have dogs AND when it separates, make CHEESE!  There are lots more technical terms that others use but from me…  this is it!!  You want technical terms….look elsewhere! (I did provide links, remember?)  It really can be good stuff but you have to take time to experiment with it!  Overall, has it taken much of my time.. nope!  I have to wait 15 minutes when I soak Kobie’s food with those darn pancreatic enzymes and this is a perfect thing to keep me busy while dogs are hovering wondering why they can’t have the food which is so obviously ready for them!   Have fun!

Please note:  Clicking a photo will enlarge it if you want to see the stuff closer up!!  Smile

- I made it WITH low fat chocolate milk – oohh – good stuff!  I’m sure it wouldn’t pass in the purest sense but I’m fine with that and am not posting this on any list.  OH..  and I made cream cheese with it also – yum!  Won’t mix those grains with the others!
1/8/11 - Check out Coconut Milk Kefir!  Looks yummy – I think I’ll try it!  Got this tip from a friend!
7/4/11Kefir and cancer – the results of a study…  very complicated so if someone understands it and wants to report to me that would be great!  In the meantime..  the big picture – It’s all good!

SO – What’s the latest?
– So this is what it has come down to….  smoothies and cream cheese…. both of which can be flavored various ways.  I do one batch at a time (less dogs) and if I get too much just put the current batch in the refrigerator for a day or so until I’m ready for it.  If it separates, I make cream cheese, if it doesn’t I have a drink.  I use what I have left over from the cream cheese (the whey – people pay good money for whey) for smoothies or on the dog’s food.  I even use different bowls now to make it..  check it out!  A salad spinner! … an old one I got in a thrift store!  I see a plastic pitcher with a built in strainer and a loose fitting lid…  oops.. the lid didn’t get into the pictures… take my word for you! So I put the milk in the pitcher and the grains in the strainer.  The lid has spinner so you don’t have to stir it.  (I so stir it but most often just spin the thingy on the lid which spins the basket….  THEN…  to drain it, just lift out after jiggling the strainer around a bit and pour with the spout into whatever you like.  I found one online that is more likely the updated version of mine…  might just have to purchase that so I’ll have 2!

IMAG1134     IMAG1135    IMAG1138    Progressive International Salad Spinner

Well that’s it..  Everyday I try to have the following:

  • A protein drink made with kefir and protein powder.  Actually I like to make these thick enough to eat with a spoon. Some flavors:
    • Chocolate powder with frozen berries or any variety of frozen fruit.
    • Vanilla powder with peanut butter, Stevia, ice cubes
    • Vanilla powder with frozen pineapple, juice.
    • Vanilla or chocolate powder with instant coffee, latte powder, Stevia, ice cubes
  • A glass of Kefir with Nestles Quik and a little Stevia.
  • Peanut, butter and jelly on an organic rice cake.

Yep…  not a purist…  but lovin’ it!   ….and so are the dogs!

November 9, 2011 – YET another update!  Saw on a list that Marilyn, the “kefir lady” needed to buy back some grains because she can’t produce enough herself to fill all her orders.  Why not I thought..  Here were her parameters:

I need your extra milk kefir grains if you can spare any. I will take any amount you have.They need to be making kefir continuously at room temperature for at least two weeks. I don't want any kefir grains that have been frozen recently or refrigerated. They have to be actively growing. I promise to find good homes for them.

So I contacted her and said I will send you some and if you like them I’ll send you more and if not, I won’t.  Mine were growing SO fast and I was giving them to the dogs so I thought why not make $15/cup that she was willing to pay.  But, hey, mine were made from powdered fat free milk, not goats milk so I was totally prepared to have them rejected.  Well, she loved them and called them “monster” grains and what did I do…  uh oh.. I had to fess up and admit that I wasn’t a purist.. didn’t seem to matter because apparently they were so good!  So if you didn’t click the link at the beginning of this post and read about the Kefirlady, you should do so now!!  oh…  and I promised not to refrigerate them ever again!!  Smile











Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It was her birthday after all….

…. so why not get everyone involved! 


Happy Birthday to Candace!!





Monday, July 4, 2011

… a little walkin’…

  • 6/11 – session 1 – tossed food on it without turning it one…  Jake will do anything or go anywhere for food.  Brita just stood back and sent me a mental message to toss it back to her. Turned it on and twice got Jake to run over it for food!
  • 6/11 – Session 2 – no Brita this time and used a calmer approach.  I pushed it against the wall and put a fence piece on the other open side so if he went on it there would only be one way to go….  from back to front.  Started with it off and tossed food and then turned it on.  At one point I stood on it with my feet on the edges and used food to entice him through…  all in all..  good session…
What ARE you talking about, you ask???   A treadmill, what else?!?  Jake’s surgery resulted in his leg being a tad shorter because he has no femoral head so his back seems to turn.  He has been getting VOM treatments from Nancy and I feel that developing his back end muscles will really help…  so…  the treadmill it is!  More to come!
  • 6/12 – Did the run thru pretty good – turned up the speed one notch and he didn’t seem to notice.brought a crate downstairs and put at the front of it.  Read that dogs get freaked sometimes if they are facing a wall and thing that they may hit it.  I opened the side door of the crate and he would run over the treadmill and into the crate.  I plan to eventually bring it closer when he is comfortable on it.
  • 6/13 – Put rugs around the treadmill because he was so excited to get off and then go around and back on that he was slipping on the floor.  Speed is 1 m/h and he is staying on it and walking as long as there is food.  I have to say walk or he stops and starts to slide off the back.
  • 6/14 – Doing well… is actually getting it!   speed 1.2 mph sometimes he forgets to move his legs when fixated on food…  then he hurries up so he doesn’t slide off the back!
  • 6/15 – Same as yesterday but a little more sure of himself… 1.3 mph
  • 6/16 – I stood in front of the treadmill and he stayed on it for about 2 minutes two times.  OF COURSE there was kibble in front of his nose but he’s not afraid at all..  if he forgets to walk and starts to slide off he hurries up and repositions himself!  This is going to work!
  • 6/17 – I stood in front now the whole time and he kept walking while I reached for more kibble.  Up to 2 mph and need to find out what is the best speed.  I noticed he was pacing…
  • Fast forward…  6/28…  walking once maybe 2x/day most days and incrementally increasing speed and distance/time.  Now up to 3mph and 3 min….  oh and LESS treats! 
When we go to the basement and I’m doing something else, he hangs out on the treadmill.  Once I even caught him snoozing on it!  I guess that means he likes it! 


This video was taken 7/4 – slightly less than a month after we started.  I wanted to really take it slow and believe that it worked.  As you’ll see, when it’s faster he trots much better.  If I had it to do over, I would have increased the speed faster than I did.  You have to know your dog..  Brita doesn’t want anything to do with it and I wonder if I could ever get her used to it.  For sure, it wouldn’t be as easy as with Jake who is pretty fearless when it comes to new stuff and he thought nothing of it when he slid off the back a few times but rather just popped right up to get back on.  What a great dog!

 August update - we're up to 4.5 miles per hour and 5 minutes.  People ask if I tie him to it..  no way!  It's all voluntary.  At one point I took the side down and he is fine but I have noticed that he stays as far from that edge as he can so I think I'm going to put it back and see if that makes a difference and he walks in the middle.

And then....
One day he got distracted and simply stopped walking resulting in him flying off the back of the treadmill into the wall behind it...  THIS, he was not happy about and he decided that the treadmill was EVIL and no self respecting German Shepherd should even get NEAR evil!!  

And I'm sure as he pulled himself up from the floor he looked at Brita and agreed with her that she was right all along to stay away from the evil thing!

End of treadmill adventures!!  :):)  

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