Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

We Like It Raw, Baby!

I've been feeding the pups 100% raw since October and they're all loving it. We're using the Whole Prey Model, which is 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ, with half of that being liver. Between the 3 of them, they go through 6lbs of food a day - 3lbs for Duncan, 2lbs for Reyna, and 1lb for Kodiak. This is why I keep stalking the deer processor.

Its been interesting to see how different their tastes are regarding what they like and don't like. Kodiak likes anything and everything (and I do mean everything) and as much of it as he can get. Duncan likes most things, but he has a few items he just won't eat. For some reason, he's boycotting turkey hearts right now, although he was fine eating them a month ago. Reyna seems to be good with most meats, but there have been a couple of things she's refused. Her biggest issue is bones - she doesn't like the bones to be too big. We've found a few work-arounds with that, so its no real problem.

Some of the benefits I've seen with the new diet - Reyna's regained the weight she lost, everyone's fur is gorgeous and feels softer and cleaner than ever, their teeth are whiter, and their poops are smaller. Whats not to like?

Here's Reyna enjoying a turkey neck. This is one of the few boney items that she likes and there's the added benefit of glucosamine in all those jointy pieces. Duncan doesn't seem to care for turkey necks much, although he'll occasionally eat half a neck. Kodiak can't have them because he likes to gulp and I'm worried he'll choke on them.

Duncan likes the big turkey legs. He doesn't get them often because of the high bone content. He also doesn't get them when I have to leave for work - he's slow enough eating meaty meals, never mind when he has to take his time and work through the bones.

Kodiak gets turkey legs on very rare occasions. One leg is about his daily allotment and the bone is enough to cover him for a couple of days. He's great with large food, though, because it makes him slow down and really work it, rather than gulp and go.

There are a few of us in the area that feed raw and we've tracked down some wholesale suppliers that will sell to us by the case, as well as a couple of farms that will give us good deals on spare parts. My deer guy is great, but I only have a few more weeks when I can get meat and bones from him. Thank goodness for extra freezers!

Saturday, December 03, 2011


12/3/2010, Kodiak came into our home as a foster puppy. He never left. I'm so glad he's a part of our family (even when he won't put his ears up for pictures). Happy Gotcha Day, Kodiak!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yeah, I Know...

I'm way behind. Its been mentioned more than once. The last several weeks have had a lot going on, some good, some not so good, and even though I've intended to update the blog several times, the motivation just hasn't kicked in. I've got a few individual posts in mind for some things that happened over the last month (not to mention a ton of photos to share), but this one will just be a (relatively) brief sum-up.

The vets still don't know what's causing the masses on Reyna's belly. Another one appeared in early November and we managed to get her to the vet school before it ruptured so they could take samples for biopsies and cultures. They admitted that they didn't give her enough pain meds to keep it from hurting when they took the samples, and it was obvious to me that she wasn't sufficiently drugged. The soreness unfortunately got her fixated on her belly and I had a lot of trouble keeping her from licking this time around. For whatever reason, she still has an open sore from the biopsy, when she should be completely healed by now.

The Derm vet is apparently still running things, so he and I have talked a few times since the biopsies. They didn't get any definitive answers from the biopsies or the cultures. They requested the slides of the samples taken during the surgery so they could do a comparison - nothing useful came from that. The last time I talked to the Derm vet, they were running a special stain on the samples to try and determine if she has a microbacterial infection. They can't find anything else, so that's their current guess. To add to the fun, if the stain comes back negative, it doesn't actually mean there aren't any microbacteria - it could just mean they took the sample from the wrong place. The vet put Reyna on two new antibiotics (microbacteria are apparently resistant to the various antibiotics she's already taken) to see if that clears up her belly. I picked up the new meds yesterday and gave her the first dose last night. I woke up this morning to discover that Reyna's face, head, and forelegs were swollen - one of the less-likely but still possible side effects of these particular antibiotics. I've been dosing her with Benadryl, but her head is still a bit puffy. At least she can open her eyes all the way now.

Kodiak earned his Junior Herding Dog title at the end of October. I have videos of both runs, and someday the woman who took pictures of his runs will get around to letting me have copies. I was really pleased with Kodiak - even though other things at the trial freaked him out, he was able to focus on the sheep and do his job.

Reyna had a nose work seminar this past weekend, and I took all of the pups. The last time I left Duncan home alone for two days, he was a basket case for several days after we returned. I think he was much happier traveling with us, despite the cramped truck and hanging in a crate all day.

The pups had their Santa Paws photos taken recently. Still debating going back for a re-try, since I only really liked one of the photos.

I started feeding all three pups a totally raw diet several weeks ago. They love it, and I'm thrilled to report that Reyna has gained back all the weight she lost this summer. Their coats feel wonderful and their teeth are gorgeous. I met a fellow who processes deer and he's hooked me up a few times with meat, bones and organs. In fact, I got an entire deer from him yesterday. He's also talking to other hunters for me to see if anyone would be willing to shoot a few deer for me. So far, I've gotten about 80lbs of meat from him. There's still about five weeks left in the season, so hopefully I'll get a lot more before its all over.

I recently started selling Mary Kay to bring in a little extra income, and shortly after that I got my first real job in two years. Its a contract position that's currently scheduled to end in May or June, but we'll see what happens when we get closer. The wonderful thing is that it actually pays real money. The bad thing is I have to figure out when to squeeze in all my dog activities...

I think that just about covers the highlights of the last several weeks. Photos and videos to come later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Reyna's Raffle

The winners of the raffle prizes were drawn this afternoon by Reyna and Kodiak. They'll be notified via email and the prizes mailed out. Thanks so much to everyone who purchased tickets and made donations!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reyna's Helping Paws

Some of you know about my financial circumstances, but for those of you who don't, I was laid off two years ago from a well-paying job. Since then, I've struggled to find regular work but have only managed to find part-time and temporary positions. We've been getting by, but Reyna's recent medical bills are beyond my current financial capabilities. To help with this, several folks have donated items for a raffle. Many thanks to Suzie Kalafian of Superior Dog Training, Claire Apple of Dog Training for Obedience and Herding with Claire Apple, J. Lee of Portraits by J. Lee, and several others.

Tickets are $5 each and give you a chance to win each item offered! Tickets can be purchased by sending money through PayPal to The more tickets you purchase, the more chances you have to win! The raffle runs through Wednesday, November 2, when Reyna (or a pack member) will select the winners.

Hand crafted by Bob Christensen. Bowl measures 10” diameter x 4 3/4" tall.

Custom towel with a whimsical Christmas dog design embroidered by Ellen Christensen.

Hand towel with welcome bird and bird house embroidered by Ellen Christensen.

Hand crafted by Bob Christensen. Beautiful custom pen comes complete with cross pen insert and takes cross pen refills.

9"x12" watercolor painted by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

7"x10" watercolor painted by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

Large short-sleeve t-shirt.

Large short-sleeve t-shirt.

8"x10" acrylic painting by a local artist.

7"x10" watercolor painted by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

7"x10" watercolor painted by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

9"x12" watercolor painted by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

8"x10" acrylic painting by a local artist.

Large Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat, donated by local artist and dog trainer, Claire Apple.

Gold and diamond heart pendant.

You could win a beautiful pet portrait by Portraits by Lee. Just send in a picture of your pet and receive a 10 x 8 painting!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Today's Vet School Visit

Lot's of info from today's visit, but not a lot of definitive answers (anyone surprised by this?). Let's start with the easy stuff...

The urine tests showed that her kidney's are working normally, with her UPC back down in the normal range.

Her hip x-rays showed that the implant looks just like it did two years ago, no sign of infection or other problems. They also showed that her left hip looks a lot worse than it did two years ago, but that's not a surprise, either. Its good to know that the implant is doing its job.

The sore that was on Reyna's belly two weeks ago appears to have healed up, although its a bit hard to tell since the latest mass ruptured fairly close to the last one. The vets are happy with the general improvement (smaller sores) but concerned that there was a new mass. The bacterial infection is completely cleared up, but Reyna is to finish the last week of her antibiotics. The Derm vet prescribed two topicals (one anti-fungal and one antibacterial) to keep the infection gone until she sees him on the 18th. They did a surface swab today and found eosinophilic inflammatory cells, which can be caused by parasitic infections, allergies, bug bites, foreign bodies or certain tumors. The Internal Med vet still thinks there's some underlying cause to these masses/sores, but the Derm vet has a different opinion. He seems to think that the healing incision has irritated Reyna and she's causing the sores by licking the thin skin. Of course, he's not explaining how she's creating the masses first, nor is he explaining what caused the initial mass/sore that resulted in the surgery that created the incision... We'll chat about all of that on the 18th. And about the fact that if Reyna were reacting to an irritation of some kind, we wouldn't be dealing with small sores (I'll have Dr. Lapham chat with the Derm vet to explain just how much damage Reyna tends to do with this sort of thing - the Derm vet will believe him more than me, I'm sure). So, no more info on the sores/masses for another two weeks.

As for the weight loss, it turns out Reyna has lost another two pounds in the last two weeks (she's down to 67lbs). The GI panel came back normal, which means she should be absorbing nutrients properly. I had a long chat with one of the nutritionists today, and she's putting together a potential food plan to try and get Reyna back up to at least 72lbs. She thinks Reyna probably isn't getting all of the vitamins and minerals she needs, but she realizes she's dealing with a dog with several food allergies and a sensitive stomach. She also thinks its possible that Reyna doesn't have enough pancreatic enzymes to properly digest everything, no matter what the test results show (those enzymes actually came back near the low end of normal). We tracked her weight over the last few months, and it shows that she started losing in June (could have been muscle mass since we weren't walking due to her stomach issues) with the significant loss starting around the appearance of the first mass. Reyna did gain weight after the surgery, and then lost again around the time the second mass showed up. The nutritionist and Internal Med vet both agree that whatever's messing with her belly has most likely had at least some impact on Reyna's weight. Hopefully we'll get the nutritionist's suggestions tomorrow and we can start trying them to see what (if anything) works.

I think that's everything from today...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


A few photos that didn't make it into the blog last month...