Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We Have Picked A Vet At Our New Location

We have concluded our search and decided which of the vets at our new location is most likely worthy of taking care of our dogs!

Of course, while everything looks good on paper, you don't really know what you got until things get tough. 

But, hopefully, things will never get as tough as they did with Jasmine. And if they do, our new vet will step up to the plate.

This has caused me quite a bit of anguish but I feel quite good about our final choice.

The hospital is one of the very few around here which are AAHA accredited
 so that should guarantee certain level of standards.

More importantly, they lived through my list of 35 questions!

They were perfectly happy to answer all of them and all the answers were perfect, except two which were satisfactory.

They generally don't have a body in the hospital during the night to watch overnight patients but they are willing to have somebody in there on request. Yes, it would cost a bit more but depending on the situation it might or might not be a good thing to do.

They don't use web-based records but are perfectly happy to provide copy of everything.

They don't offer health plans but they are thinking about it.

I also asked whether I could have a little preliminary phone call with the specific vet we wanted to work with.

We wanted her in particular because she practices integrative veterinary medicine. It almost looked like that was not going to happen as she was very busy. But eventually I got to talk to her and she made a very good impression.

So that is it. We have made our choice.

It's a major load of my back and I feel good about it. Here is hoping that my first impressions are correct.

Related articles:
Looking For A New Veterinarian: Our List Of Questions 
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Veterinarians Are People First
Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records

Monday, July 28, 2014

Adoption Monday: Joe Joe, Shepherd Mix, Deerfield, NH

Check out this awesome boy at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

Gronk is ready to play on your Team! 

Of course, if you don't love football he's happy to just hang out with you too!

Gronk is a very sweet boy who loves kids and other dogs.

He also leaves the kitties alone so far in his foster home and he loves to cuddle.  Bringing Gronk home would be like scoring a TOUCHDOWN!!!

Gronk is neutered, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Joe Joe? Call Mary's Dogs: or send along an email: marysdogsrescue@gmail.com

Ready to bring Gronk home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Gronk in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Most Important Dog Training Strategy


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Veterinary Highlights: Rabies Challenge Fund

The Rabies Challenge Fund has received the commitment from a USDA-approved facility to perform the first of the challenge phases of the 5 and 7-year studies. 

This rabies research was undertaken to determine, by challenge, the vaccine’s long-term duration of immunity in dogs and to establish the world’s first canine rabies titer standard.

The research began in November 2007 under the direction of Dr. Ronald Schultz and The University of Wisconsin Foundation and is now in year seven. 

Fees for this first challenge, slated to begin later this year, will involve 15 of the study dogs and will cost $100,000. If successful, two subsequent challenges of 15 dogs each will be conducted in order to meet the USDA rabies vaccine licensing requirements.

These results, which will have been obtained using the same federal standard upon which all currently licensed rabies vaccines and rabies laws and regulations are based, should establish the scientific foundation upon which the legally required rabies booster intervals for dogs can be extended to 5 or 7 years.

Further, for the first time, the accumulated rabies titer data should permit incorporating clauses pertaining to rabies titers into the existing laws.

Currently, The Rabies Challenge Fund will need to raise an additional $24,847 to cover the challenge facility fees.

This is an important undertaking that concerns us all. 

Information on making a donation can be found here.


Related articles:
Blog The Change For Animals: Rabies Challenge Fund

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Rant About Breast Milk And Dog Nutrition

Do you, like me, find yourself wondering since when having a dog became rocket science?

According to science, domestication of dogs happened some 20 to 30 thousand years ago. Were the hunter-gatherers sitting there, racking their brains with what to feed and how to train their new companions?

And yet everything worked itself out naturally.

But then, hunter-gatherers didn’t have McDonalds or dog Chow, nor did they have pesticides, herbicides or Monsanto … among other things.

Is that significant?

I am a little Czech woman who found her port in Canada about 20 years ago.

Where I come from, dogs were fed left-overs and, if they were really lucky, some meat, bones or risotto type of mixtures. Rural dogs would live on combination of that and fending for themselves. Nobody ever heard of commercial kibble and when it eventually got introduced it was a luxury item normal people couldn’t afford.

The dogs seemed to have lived happy and healthy long lives.

My mom has a friend whose dog is of a ripe age and lives on boiled out chicken carcasses, milk and bread. And only when the cat leaves some. Does that make your hair stand up? Mine too. And yet, the dog survived all these years.

When I came to Canada and met my husband, he had a little rescued Rottie girl. I was new to the country and he had gone through a nasty divorce. We were very broke. We fed her grocery store Chow because that’s all we could afford.

While I would NEVER feed my dog that stuff unless I couldn’t help it, she too survived on that.

A few years after her passing, we got a new puppy, Jasmine. At first we fed her based on her breeder’s recommendation. Because of her constant stool problems, she ended up long term on Hill’s i/d. Not that it made any difference.

It actually wasn’t her food but her treats that got me thinking harder about nutrition. 

She used to get Begging Strips, which she liked a lot. It used to be crispy and smell like bacon. Then they changed the formulation. It became gooey and suddenly it smelled sour and mostly like chemicals more than anything else.

Perhaps just because they sell something for dogs doesn’t mean that it’s good for them …

So I started looking closer at the ingredients. We started making home-made beef jerky treats and I decided to exchange the i/d for California Natural Fish and Potato.

Jasmine’s appetite was also dwindling and stools continued to be bad but frequent vet visits didn’t bring any answers or solutions.

It wasn’t until Jasmine was five years of age, when problems started piling up. 

She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. She busted her knee ligament. And then, finally, after finding yet another new vet, she was diagnosed with IBD. The cause was determined to be food allergies, which none of the vets ever caught before. (This was about six years ago)

With everything as it was, it meant a major change in her diet and we decided to go with home-cooking. 

We involved a veterinary nutritionist but even then we had to change the recipe a couple of times because some of the nutrients weren’t getting assimilated from some of the ingredients.

The fact is, that once we got it figured out, Jasmine thrived on that.

Looking at the big picture, I was wondering how much of the later problems could have been avoided if her allergies were diagnosed earlier. The new vet said, based on his findings, that she likely had the IBD all along.

How many of the later issues might have been avoided if that had been diagnosed and addressed at the beginning?

I started seriously researching what could I do, in terms of nutrition, to help Jasmine’s body. And that was when dog nutrition became a big part of my learning curve.

I read a long list of books on dog nutrition. I learned about food therapy in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. I felt I didn’t know enough. I took a course on integrative dog nutrition and decided to study dog physiology and biochemistry to really get to understand things.

Do I feel that I know it all now?

Mostly what I learned is that there are more questions to be asking.

Should it be this complicated?

These days, everybody will give you an opinion on what you should feed your dog. Everybody has a strong conviction and the beliefs vary greatly. And most of them believe (and are happy to let you know) that if you choose to feed something else, you’re killing your dog.

I remember meeting my husband’s colleague for a dog play date for the first time. As our conversation went on, I innocently asked what she was feeding her dog. She refused to tell me. When I asked why, she said that I wouldn’t agree with it.

How many judgmental responses did it take for her to simply refuse to disclose what she was feeding her dog?

You get bombarded from all sides. From your breeder, your vet, your friends, your neighbors, the media, and the clerk at the pet store … There are people who use the term “food Nazi” and then there are people who’d likely be best described by this term.

For some, feeding a certain type of diet being the answer to everything.

“I think my dog just broke a leg, what should I do?”
“Switch him to raw.”

Am I exaggerating? Yes, but not that much.

Extruded kibble, baked kibble, canned, semi-moist, freeze-dried, raw, premium, gourmet, all-natural, grain-free, gluten-free, holistic, organic, human-grade, biologically appropriate, ancestral, cooked, home-cooked … those are just some of the terms to contend with.

And all that before you even turn the package to take a look at the back.

Beside the processing method, what the label says on the back actually matters the most.
Back to my husband’s colleague’s feeding choice.

Her dog is doing great. Isn’t that all that matters?

One of the big arguments going on is which is more important, ingredients or nutrients? Are nutrients all that matters and ingredients are irrelevant?

What do you think?

Photo Cavalier Health

Nutrients ARE important. It is nutrients that carry the needed energy, building blocks of tissues and functional elements. Fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, vitamins … those are the things a dog’s body needs to function.

Does it or does it not matter where the nutrients come from, though?

And more importantly, if we're counting nutrients, are we counting ALL of them? And what about food substances that don't qualify as nutrients and yet might be just as important?

Remember the times when baby formula was deemed the be superior to breast milk?

Just today I came across an article on how decoding breast milk secret reveals clues to lasting health.

"Evidence shows that breast-feeding is good for babies, boosting immunity and protecting them from a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular disease."
“Mother’s milk is the Rosetta Stone for all food,” said Professor Bruce German, director of the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute. “It’s a complete diet, shaped over 200 million years of evolution, to keep healthy babies healthy.”

Shaped over 200 million years of evolution ...

So what does breast milk have that formula does not? It has nutrients, of course. But third most abundant to lactose and lipids is a biomolecule that the babies cannot digest. It goes in just to end up in the diapers.

Nobody ever counted that.

Heck, nobody even knew it was there.

"Turns out, the indigestible matter is a slew of complex sugars called oligosaccharides that are extremely difficult to detect and analyze."

If they don't get digested, how could they be important? They don't feed the baby, they feed Bifidobacterium infantis bacteria in the baby's gut. If you're into probiotics, you know what these are. As it turns out, breast milk is loaded with prebiotics.

What does this have to do with dog nutrition?

Perhaps ingredients, and what happens to them in the process, matter after all. Perhaps we should not just count nutrients and think that is all there is to nutrition. Perhaps natural ingredients offer more than meets the eye.

Image: indrja, fotoalba by Centrum.ca

Perhaps we lost sight of what dogs evolved to eat. Perhaps nutrition isn't rocket science after all, just common sense.

What do you think?

Related articles:
"Natural" With Regard To Dog Nutrition (Part I): What Does It Mean And Does It Matter? 
The Whole Food Philosophy And The Tale Of A Giant Sugar Beet
Brad Pitt Doesn't Believe in Germs. Could he be right?
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