Skyy: Three Years Remembered

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In less than twenty-four hours, we are making our almost annual pilgrimage to the Palmetto Pit Bull Club’s show.  This show, which is open to dogs registered with the American Dog Breeder’s Association (ADBA), has been part of our round of shows since we started travelling for the events that the ADBA put in so many years ago.  This show, however, has a far more significant meaning because of a tragedy that struck three years ago before the club moved their show from the Burke County Fairgrounds in Morganton, North Carolina to their current venue in Waynesville, North Carolina.

On April 9, 2011 a fast moving storm rolled into the fairgrounds just as the puppy classes were wrapping up – which I remember all too well since our then little Mika had JUST finished taking a 2nd place.  Dogs and humans were moved into what we thought was safety but not before a wicked blast of lightening reached out and struck a beautiful blue and white dog named Skyy, killing her instantly.  The lightning strike that took her life saved her owner who would have no doubt died if this beautiful girl hadn’t taken the brunt of its force.  The reverberating force from the storm sent nine other people to the hospital after other dog show patrons, utilizing tables as gurneys while paramedics were called, was a fierce reminder to all involved that life was too precious.

Seeing fellow dog show enthusiasts waste no time to help fellow man and dog alike despite mundane dislikes or friendships was a truly awe inspiring.  No able-bodied person failed to help in some way – even if it was as simple as making sure those injured were kept calm and as comfortable as possible while every living being was rounded up and brought into the building to ride out the rest of the storm – which included softball sized hail that damaged at least one vehicle seriously and dented many others.

Those of us who were there have formed a far closer bond and many friendships were formed because of the sacrifice of one dog’s life.  On April 9th every year, many people change their profile photos on Facebook to Skyy’s photo in remembrance for the life lost and the tragedy that was survived and healed from.  We will never forget.  Play hard at the bridge, beloved little girl.  Your memory carries on.

Shelter Dog Saturday: Luna

luna-adoptapup-1896Name: Luna

Breed(s): Belgian Malinois

Age: 8 months old

Gender: Female

If you’re looking for a nice companion or even a sport dog prospect, little miss Luna might just be the dog for you.  She is a very sweet little Belgian Malinois girl who was left behind after her family was deported.  Her unforeseen tragedy turned out into a miracle thanks to a kind-hearted gentleman who reached out to to the wonderful folks at Adopt-A-Pup for help.

With good timing, good people and a Malinois-savvy home that came from the folks over at the American Belgian Malinois Club Rescue Facebook group this little peach has a good start to a bright future ahead of her as she settles into her foster home and the search forluna-adoptapup-1904 her forever home begins.

Luna is a pretty easy-going gal overall.  She rode well in the car and seems to have settled into her foster Mom’s house with no problems.  I personally would have loved to have adopted this little peach myself but we’re pretty full to the brim with our crew.  She will definitely make a wonderful addition for her forever home!to her forever home.  I was blessed to actually get to meet and transport this little love and would definitely recommend a breed savvy home because I know how much go these guys can have and how much they enjoy having a job.

If you’re interested in adopting Luna or any of the available animals available through Adopt-A-Pup Rescue, please contact them through their website or their Facebook page.

It’s Going to Cost Me What?!

You never expect to have to drop a whole load of money on a perfectly happy, healthy and mikabedactive young dog until that moment when it actually happens because they do something totally unexpected or a horrendous accident occurs.  This was the case last Thursday for us when our darling milk chocolate darling Mika decided that part of a Wubba’s tail, fleece tug and half of one of my bras (the side with the eye hooks) were perfectly edible and polished them off in the wee hours of the morning and I would have found out too late if I hadn’t stepped on a soggy bra (because I was lazy and left it on the floor the night previously) and realized something did NOT look right on it.

My husband and I figured we could get her to vomit it back up with peroxide – especially since she’s notorious for eating stuffing from stuffy toys (and the reason she is banned from them too!) – and so we weren’t worried too at that time.  My husband and I both worked for one or the other (or both of us!) to get out of work, however, and get her into the vet’s office if we couldn’t get her to vomit.  I tried the peroxide when I got home from work since I hadn’t been gone too long since she ingested the items but she failed to throw the items up.

I called the clinic to warn them that I was on my way up (I actually said, because of Mika’s history for needing x-rays for pulling these stunts that “Mika needed another dose of radiation because it had been far too long and she needed a recharge for her super powers.”) and what I suspected.  X-rays were ordered the second we got into the room after her vitals were checked – which showed a slightly elevated temperature of 102 degrees.  Sure as the fact that the sun rises and sets every day, the metal from the bra showed up on x-rays.  I cringed knowing exactly what it meant and how bad the estimate would be.

My vet’s office is, thankfully, absolutely amazing. My estimate was about half what Imikavet expected at a tune of $830 dollars with all the necessary things for surgery plus the bill of $125 she had already racked up with x-rays, etc.   It didn’t stop me from cringing at the bill but it was a little easier pill to swallow since I knew she could be gotten in that day without paying emergency room costs or allowing for 24-hours to pass into a more complicated extraction area like her intestines.

Thankfully, we have a CareCredit card (which is, in my opinion, an essential thing to have if you have dogs because you NEVER know when one of them is going to have a stupid moment like Mika did…!) which allowed for 18 months of no interest payments on our painful bill.  If we hadn’t, we’ve got an emergency fund specifically for the dogs but I avoid tapping into that unless I have no other choice but the cushion was there for that off chance.

mikavet1Mika went into surgery at round 12pm.  The surgery took around a half an hour from start to finish and was, in relative terms, a simple exploratory surgery because she hadn’t passed any of the items into nastier territory.  My vet, Dr. Eugene over at Hoover Road Animal Hospital, was pleased with the work and when she was in recovery, I was allowed back to sit with her while she came out of anesthesia and see what all she ate.  It was, to be honest, utterly disgusting but I was glad she didn’t eat more or worse.

Ultimately, Mika’s antics taught me a very valuable lesson on being prepared.  The painful and expensive opportunity to know what to watch for when it comes to dogs who don’t think twice and get into things they shouldn’t even when you least expect it.  The financial responsibility overall on a dog may be minimal but an emergency surgery definitely is not and it always pays to save for a rainy day – even if it’s only a few dollars here and there.  You never know when it will be necessary!

Cooking with Dogs: Pineapple Melon Frosty Paws

Even though it’s a winter wonderland outside it’s time for another experiment in the kitchen. The last recipe, Melon Mango Pineapple Frosty Paws, was such a hit that we decided to mix it up and do a little variation on it.  This time we didn’t add the mango or the yogurt so it would be a simply fruity (with a pinch of coconut and honey!) concoction.

My helper dogs had all abandoned me this time because they were all holding down the couch and perfecting the term ‘lazy’ so I had a go of this on my own with no taste testers.  I had to pray it would turn out right for their spoiled rotten doggie selves (which I shouldn’t have feared because it was a hit when they finally got to try them).

Without the hustle and bustle of having a dog (or three!) underfoot in the kitchen, I knocked this one out pretty fast.  I had bought a pretty large watermelon and cut it up the night before so I only needed to cut up the pineapple into smaller pieces than the chunks I had bought before being able to combine the ingredients all together into the blender.  (My blender would like to mention that I’ve been abusing it since I discovered dog treat recipe!)

It was another simple and tasty recipe that definitely made the pups drool for more, but I know what you’re waiting for – the recipe.  Here you go!

Ingredients

-          8-10 pieces of pineapple

-          10-15 pieces of watermelon (or any melon, actually)

-          2 tsp. shredded, unsweetened coconut

-          1 tsp. honey (we used organic)

Instructions

-          Combine pineapple and watermelon into blender.

-          Add the shredded coconut to the mix.

-          Add the honey into the mix.

-          Blend until the consistency of a smoothie.

-          Pour into molds and put into freezer for 2-3 hours.

-          Serve!

Winter Fitness: Dog Treadmills

philgroundhogWinter is dragging on and on…and on.  It seems that our winter-predicting groundhog friend, Punxsutawney Phil, has said another six weeks of this cold, nasty weather that has held the dogs pretty much hostage in the house other than trips to indoor venues and the occasional winter event – like the snow pulls we’ve attended.  The dogs are going stir crazy and all that pent up energy has expressed itself in a few inappropriate actions too since they’ve started to nitpick and nag at each other more than usual.  It’s getting rather old but we thankfully have a few options to exercise not only their minds but their bodies as well – the treadmill.

Thanks to dog owners becoming more and more interested in the fitness of themselves andryker-october2013-4148 their canine companions, finding these types of exercise equipment available is becoming more and more readily available.  Years ago, when I first got into the APBT as a breed enthusiast, having a dog-powered treadmill and the use was often linked by everyday pet owners as a sign of dog fighting.  Thankfully, this is no longer the case and much of the so-called dog fighting propaganda is being realized to be useful for all breeds and types of dogs.

There are many types of treadmills that can be used for dogs.  Some treadmills are dog-powered and others are electric.  I personally prefer the dog-powered variety since it allows the dog to set their pace and not be forced into something that is uncomfortable for them but it can also allow a lazy dog to balk at doing more then they want to – which can be a pain if you have a dog who needs to shed a few extra pounds.

With dog-powered treadmills, there are two varieties that are typically seen – the carpet-type and the slat-type.  The carpet-type tends to be harder to turn and will develop a bunchier, flashier muscling on a dog.  The slat-type is much easier for a dog to move and tends to develop lean muscling which is phenomenal for a dog who needs a boost of endurance.  They both have their pros and their cons and we personally recommend that if you’ve got the room and funds to purchase both and use both in a conditioning regiment that you do that – especially if you have multiple dogs.  There are quite a few dogs who will balk at the use of a carpet mill because of the difficulty level.

lyric-october2013-4167In the case of electric-type treadmills, many people convert humane-designed treadmills for the use with their canine companions but there are other options available which are geared in size and type toward canine companions.  They are free-spinning like the slat-type treadmill and will typically allow for a more lean muscle-type to be created.  For many people, this is the easiest option because you can find inexpensive electric treadmills (often called e-mills) on places like Craigslist for next to nothing.  The only down fall, in my opinion, is that you have to watch and gauge when your dog has had enough and for many dogs that can be a pain since they don’t want to admit to being tired!

There are a few safety and training precautions to remember when using a treadmill with a dog.  Please make sure to read them and follow them for the safety of all involved – especially the dog:

  • No matter which direction you choose to go if you decide to look into a treadmill, you always need to make sure you do slow, positive introductions to the equipment.  Some more sensitive or nervous dogs may be afraid of it at first.  We always recommend teaching a load up onto the treadmill for a few days before turning it on or allowing it to be moved so that they’re able to figure out how to get their feet under them as they jog/run.
  • A well fitting harness that allows for proper breathing ability is also a big requirement because you don’t want your dog to end up short of breath from construction from a connector cutting their airway off from the collar.
  • Always keep it positive and build up your dog.  Don’t expect that they’re going to be able to jog for 30 minutes right off the bat when you couldn’t do it if you weren’t used to it either!

Has this post inspired you to look into treadmills for your dog?  We hope so!  If you are, here are a few companies you can look into for them:

  • Grand Carpet Mill – Carpet-type treadmill, as the name implies.  We have this particular brand and won it in a raffle a few years ago at a dog show.
  • Jog A Dog Treadmill – Electric Treadmill.  It seems to be very spendy.  I’ve seen these in action but not personally used one.
  • Dog Trotter – I’ve heard great reviews on this one.  It’s probably the most commercially available slat-type treadmill out there.

If none of these fit your budgets, there are other manufacturers out there that are easy to track down with Google.  I’ve also seen plans available if you’re a DIY-er and want to try your hand at making your own dog treadmill!  Happy exercising!

Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

This is our second year participating in the annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly.com and Will My Dog Hate Meas a fun way to explore how things have gone in the past year with wandering through the blog world so…here it goes!

petbloggerchallenge

1. How long have you been blogging? Please tell us why you started blogging, and, for anyone stopping by for the first time, give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

Since May 2011.  I started blogging mostly to talk about my dogs, dog sports, everything related to the American Pit Bull Terrier and all other dog related madness.  The insanity has grown leaps and bounds from there!

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.

I created a Facebook page and Twitter account for the blog and am just shy of my goal of 10,000 hits on my blog with 8,463 hits as of the time for writing this blog entry.  I honestly never expected it but I’m pretty darn thrilled since I’m not a big time blog.

3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?

I’ve expanded a lot.  I started doing Shelter Dog Saturday posts because of visiting two local shelters (currently on hiatus due to health constraints sadly but I’ll be back!).  It got me back into the swing of things in the rescue community and gave me a way to give back – especially considering a lot of what I do people thing as only for “show dogs”.

4. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own sites?

Never give up.  You may think your writing will never reach others or do a world of good but it can and it does.  Your posts may not appeal to every single person but there will be even that one person who reads your blog and says, “Crap!  That was a really good idea!” and it helps them in their lives – even in a small portion.

If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

Asking for help has always been hard for me to do but I would love to know how other bloggers get sponsors and products to review (we’ve only done one sponsored one thus far thanks to the awesome folks at BlogPaws).

I’d also love to get more involved in social media – specifically Twitter.  I absolutely suck at Twitter.

5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

Facebook.  Adding a home location on Facebook has allowed my blog entries to be shared more readily and reached a wider audience.  I’m grateful for that especially for the shelter dogs I’ve featured who have been able to be adopted because of that on the Shelter Dog Saturday feature.

6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?

Not as much as I should.  I share each post on Facebook and Twitter but I really probably should get more involved in it.  I’m getting more involved in blogging communities but it’s hard to keep up with – especially with seven active dogs (even the seniors who need to relax some times!).

7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?

I watch the stats constantly and love reading the comments I get too.

I tend to write a lot about what appeals to me and it may not always appeal to every reader.  Since the main goal I had for this blog when I started was just to share my dogs and my love of dogs with the world, it’s gone pretty well.  Some people enjoy a topic and others don’t.  It doesn’t make for continual growth but I’m okay wit that!

How do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?

When it becomes work.  My blog is my escape time and if it becomes no fun anymore, it’s time to step back and take a break.  I’ve gone a few weeks where I just didn’t have the urge to write and so I didn’t.  The only thing that has taken a hiatus for something other than it becoming work was my Shelter Dog Saturday feature and that was because I wasn’t able to make it out to the shelters to photograph and get to know the dogs since I would rather focus on local dogs who need a place to go.

8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

Since most of the blogs I follow are typically pet related, it tends to be something I am interested or passionate about.  I try and share words of encouragement when I can, offer a friendly piece of advice or even share a bit of experience.

9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?

If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

I love doing reviews.  I love letting my readers get a perspective on a product that they may not have had originally.  I personally love reading the reviews and discussions on products as well because then I may have the urge to try that product too!

I had one product giveaway in conjunction with one and it was a bit stressful.  I decided to look into other ways of doing them for the next one I’m able to do.

10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

I take a break and do stuff off the blog – typically with the dogs.  It’s usually a few days but I’ve gone a couple of weeks before.  It’s not always easy because I tend to want to write down an idea or something on my tablet, scrap piece of paper or my phone but it definitely allows for time to rejuvenate and get those blog juices going again.

11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

Yes!  It wasn’t very long.  I usually just get burned out since we’ve got seven dogs in our house (one of them being a very naughty puppy!), a full time job, lots of volunteering with local shelters and animal rescue groups and other dog-related activities and clubs along with the blog.  Sometimes you just need a break!

Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

No way!  I enjoy blogging and I enjoy reading other blogs.  They inspire me to look at myself and gives me an opportunity to possibly try something new and exciting with the hoard.  Heaven knows I need all the help I can get!

12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

I’d love to get the blog paying for itself so I can put the money I spend on it toward other fun things to do with the dogs.  I would also like to get more involved in the blogging community and learn ways to improve my blog and offer new things to new and old readers alike that can be beneficial while still maintaining that sense of personal identity that I originally started with.

And that’s it for my 2014 Pet Blogger Challenge!  I’m grateful to have found it last year and I hope for many more successes and additions to the roster next year.  I would like to give a major shout out to everyone who helped me improve my blog and gave me some awesome ideas and, yes, even criticism on how to fix issues I was having to create a better experience.  Here is to a bright and wonderful year!

Polar Vortex: The Stuck Inside Blues

lunasnow

It’s winter here in Michigan.  It’s expected to be cold, snowy and blustery but the last few days have been absolutely arctic with temperatures hitting 30+ degrees below zero with the wind chill.  According to a few articles I’ve been reading, this has been one of the coldest Artic outbreaks in two decades for Midwest, South and East Coast.  These cold temperatures have been brutal for animals that do not live in homes and there have been cries across Facebook and other social media sites in an effort to rally to help provide sufficient shelter, warmth and care for those animals whose owners cannot afford or are unwilling to bring their animals into their homes – even for a few days while this winter anomaly runs its course.

We have been, of course, stuck in the house predominantly.  The dogs have been miserable being unable to be outside and actually doing things.  Their frustration is almost tangible – especially when they are racing back to the house bouncing from foot to foot from frigid snow balls between their pads because of the unbearable temperatures causing the normally minor annoyance to become acutely painful.  They’ve been limited to treadmill time and basic and trick training in the house for the last week and we’re all counting down the time until this frigid weather breaks – hopefully in time for the snow pull this weekend!

If you’re stuck inside like I am, there are many, many things you can do to keep yourself and your dogs entertained without venturing out into the cold.  Here are a few examples:

  • Frozen Kongs – Use your favorite Kong recipes and then toss them in the freezer until frozen solid.  For many dogs, this will allow them time to work them out.  The quicker thinking the dog, the more complicated the layering in the Kong should be.
  • Puzzle Toys - Nina Ottosson makes some absolutely AMAZING puzzle toys but those aren’t the only variety out there.  The old standby of a Buster Cube is around as well as the Tug-A-Jug and other awesome, food dispensing toys.
  • Nosework GamesHiding food in boxes (shoe boxes, postal boxes recycled from the holidays, etc.) can get your pooch thinking and is a good ground breaking tool if you ever intend to get into K9 Nosework competitions.
  • Obedience Refresher – Work on basic obedience cues with nice, high value treats.  Keeping your dog on par with their commands means an easier to live with companion who isn’t a total pest when company comes to call.
  • Relationship Games – Play games like hide and seek that build and strengthen the bond between dog and owner.  These games also have a hidden capacity to reinforce good obedience and manners as well.

Frozentozen 2013: Workin’ in the Snow

ryker-frozentozen2013-8739On Sunday, we went out to watch the afternoon pull for the World Wide Weight Pull Organization (W3PO).  I honestly didn’t go with the intention of doing anything but watching a bunch of good pullers have fun on a really challenging surface but little did I know that I would be poked and prodded until I actually caved and agreed to let old man Ryker have some fun on the snow pad.

For anyone who’s ever pulled on snow, they know that if the conditions on the pad (snow track) aren’t absolutely perfect in both weather and actual track conditions, it can be a puller’s worst nightmare because of the difficulty of that particular surface.  Ryker has always excelled on snow because he learned early on what it took to break the sled when it started to freeze to the track but it has been many years (January 2011 was the last time we did snow) and I never thought we would see the surface again so all of those habits for breaking the sled free have long since been broken because they are unsuitable for wheeled or rail tracks.  Thankfully, the harder it got, the more pissed off he got and the harder he tried to beat that cart…until he couldn’t any longer.

It was, by far, one of the sloppiest days because the temperature sat at forty-something degreesryker-frozentozen2013-8722 all day and made the track slushy until the sun started to fall – then it froze and fast.  One by one, dogs bowed out – unable and unwilling to work against the fast freezing track with its ever increasing difficulty level.  Ryker was one of three remaining pullers at the end with the other two being a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog named Royce who weighed in at 115 pounds and a Newfoundland weighing much more.  It was an honor to be in the last three pulling – especially with both dogs weighing well over double the forty-six pounds that Ryker weighed in at.

In the end, Ryker bowed out at 28.97 times his body weight.  This translated to 1,333 pounds on a slushy, difficult track.  He fell short of the Most Weight Pulled per Pound (which is based on the percentage of weight pulled versus the gross weight) that was a little over 32 times the dog’s body weight which was done by a nineteen pound Basenji named Roxie that pulled that one off!   It was, none the less, a very impressive day.  There were many dogs who pulled well into ryker-frozentozen2013-8779the 20x range – including the relatively new pulling dog, Royce, who at only two years old shows a LOT of very good promise.

We are aiming to hit the W3PO’s next snow pull the weekend of January 11th in Luna Pier, Michigan.  This relatively new organization has given us bubbling new hope for the sport that we adore with the camaraderie that was ever present at the Michigan United Kennel Club (UKC) pulls prior to the big alteration of their weight pull program to dissolve the actual competitive aspect of weight pull.  We highly recommend anyone looking to get into the sport check out the group’s new page on Facebook or check out an upcoming event and be prepared to have some fun with your dog.