Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Pillows

My dog seriously loves pillows












Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Follow the Dog Home

Follow the Dog Home by Bob, Samantha, and Kevin Walsh is not your typical book about dogs. Three members of the same family--from different generations--look back on the dogs they've had throughout their lives, and, often, those stories are intertwined.

Apologies for the poor quality of this image--
I took a pic of the book with my cell phone.
If you'd like to see a much better version, click here.
Perspective comes from a grandfather, a father, and a young granddaughter. It's interesting to see each person's take on a shared memory. In fact, I was left feeling almost disappointed that more of the stories didn't overlap to allow them to be told by Bob, Kevin, and Samantha. Not that they possibly could have controlled that aspect of it; I just mean to say I liked the concept and wanted more of it.

In general, I actually wished for more from Samantha, and I would be very interested to see a sequel to this book many years from now when Kevin is Bob's age and Samantha a mother.

The generational differences present some funny moments (like a grandfather and granddaughter who do not feel the same way about the word "poop") as well as highlight discrepancies in the way many of today's dog lovers think versus the mindset of that same group from 60 or more years ago.

At times, other family members are brought in for clarity where the main authors were unable to provide firsthand experience. These sections--as well as the behind-the-scenes type sections involving discussions among the authors about the actual writing of the book--did feel a bit disjointed in the sense that they often weren't introduced or they lacked a segue, but I appreciated and enjoyed the information they added nonetheless.
The Walshes (image provided)

Overall, the book was cute, and I certainly can't come up with any reason I wouldn't suggest it to a dog-loving friend. I don't, however, think that someone who isn't a huge fan of dogs would appreciate it.

The stories are about the bond a family and its dogs. Unless you've felt a bond like that yourself, I'm not sure that the stories would evoke those feelings. Without the personal experience to accompany you on the journey, the book could come off as a bit of a revolving door of dogs.

My only other negative commentary is one that you may find somewhat ridiculous and overly personal. I was originally going to keep my big mouth shut,  but I figure it's only fair to tell you about it.

Throughout the book, there's an anti-shelter/anti-rescue dog vibe, and, as regular Life With Desmond readers know, I am very much pro-adoption. I have no clue if it was intentional or if I'm being too sensitive, but I noticed it right away and it stuck with me the whole time. I hoped that as we progressed to the stories about Kevin's and Samantha's dogs it would change. Alas, it did not.

Without giving away too much of the story, I'll explain. There's a point at which it seems like adopting a dog from a rescue organization or shelter is the most obvious choice for the family, but that option is not chosen even though the most immediate other option is no dog at all.

This is not to say that I am anti-breeder; I am not. I just can't comprehend the idea of not even considering rescuing a dog. A major bummer for me, but that has not clouded my judgment of the book as a whole. I otherwise rather enjoyed learning about the family and all their dogs, and I think you would, too.

If you'd like to learn more about the book or the Walshes, you can visit their Facebook page--where you can read an excerpt from Follow the Dog Home--and their website (where you can check out a slideshow that includes some pictures from the book).

FTC disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are 100% my own. I was sent one copy of the book in exchange for this review. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Viva La Dog Spa Facial Wipes Review

I don't know about you, but I have a gross, stinky dog.

He is not stinky because we do not bathe him; he is stinky because he's a dog. We accept this, but at the same time, we don't think we should have to just live with it. Especially if we're going to have company. Or if Des is going to visit someone.

We practice the once-a-month bath rule, bringing Des to the groomer for a pro job about one out of three times. Clearly, we can't schedule all of Desmond's socializing around his bathing routine, so we need a solution for keeping him less gross in between baths. When these wipes came along, I figured why not give them a shot?

Previously, we've used travel wipes and an in-between spray, but Desmond doesn't like being sprayed with stuff in general and the travel wipes dried out because we were being stingy about using them all too soon/fast (entirely defeating the purpose).

Viva La Dog facial wipes come in a tub with a lid you can reseal. They're not as big as the travel wipes, which were bigger than my hand. They're not as small as a human's medicated cleansing pad, though.

Cute, for sure
For the doggie face, they're a good size, but using them to keep Desmond's body clean would be a little silly. Not that they are meant to do that, but I can't come up with any reason why you couldn't use them on the body. Granted, if you have a smaller dog than Des, I think you'd be just fine either way.

As part of this review, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire about the wipes. I captured a screen shot of my responses before I submitted it and thought I'd share it with you guys.

You can click on it to make it bigger if you can't read it

It's hard to judge how well they work in a sense of removing dirt, because Desmond's face doesn't get dirty in an obvious way. He doesn't have a beard or ears that land in his food and he's not one to stick his face into things that are dirty. I wish I had the chance to try them out on Des after a romp at the park, but it slipped my mind (and I have since passed along the wipes to a friend whose dog could benefit from them more).

Scent-wise, they smelled like something a woman would use, which is to say not super dog friendly and certainly not super male dog friendly. They were quite strong--too strong for a dog, I thought. I was taken aback by the strength of the smell, so I can't imagine what Desmond was thinking. Although he didn't turn away from the tub when I opened it or the wipe when I used it on his face.

After I was done cleaning him up, he got right to trying to lick it off of himself. That was rather amusing, but it also made me think he wasn't a big fan of the wipes, and I wondered if that was even safe.

I do love the idea of a wipe in general, so I'll have to continue my search for The One. If I can get Desmond a little bit cleaner in between baths, I will feel less like a weirdo in regards to our pillow-sharing habit.

What's mine is yours and what's yours is yours

If you want to learn a little more about Viva La Dog Spa or the wipes, check out their website and Facebook page. Or you can look at this adorable flyer that came with my package:

Again, you can click to make it bigger

Finally, you can take a look at another pet blogger's review of this product over at Raising Rama.

FTC disclaimer: We were sent a free container of face wipes for Desmond in exchange for our honest opinion of the product. No payment was received.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Trip to the NEW Vet: Anxiety

Four score and seven years ago, I began to tell you a story about Desmond's digestive issues, anxiety issues, and our vet. If you have no idea what I'm talking about or need a refresher, see Part 1, Part 2, Reader Input.

Random pix of Des make everything better
Today, I'm here to tell you that I'm very happy with our new vet. The doctor has an interest/specialization in behavior. He's on the same page as I am in regards to positive training methods.

He also sees Desmond's anxiety problems as a real thing that affect not just Desmond's reactivity but his life in general and was able to pinpoint a health issue related to his vomiting problem that the other vet missed. This post is going to focus on the anxiety issue.

We all agree that Desmond may still need to go on anxiety meds of some kind--and we all agree that we would like to try another option first. Currently, Des takes Composure chews for anxiety. Each chew has 21mg of L-Theanine, and he was getting three chews for a total of 63mg. I told the vet that this wasn't really working as far as helping me counter-condition Desmond to reactivity triggers or in times of extra stress, like fireworks/storms or car rides.

The vet explained that's because Desmond needs 100mg of L-theanine. 63 simply wasn't doing the job. He recommended a different product, called Anxitane, which is 100mg tablets. We did not discuss the fact that Composure includes the other active ingredients vitamin B1 and Colostrum Calming Complex. I do wonder about that and will ask about it the next time we meet or talk.

We still had a pretty full bag of Composure chews, so I finished those off before they got all dried out, and I gave Desmond four chews instead of three (so, 84mg) to see if there was any difference. And there was. I was able to do some reactivity work with Desmond on four chews that I was completely unable to accomplish on three.
He rather enjoys this corner of our bedroom

After that, we started giving him the Anxitane, but I'm not sure what to make of it. The directions advise us to give him half a tablet twice a day, so 50mg at a time. I guess the theory is that after a little while, he'll always have 100mg running through him. However, my experience with Composure was that it didn't really work that way.

I would see results from the chews in about 45 minutes to an hour after administering them. Those results would last a few hours and then dissipate. This is problematic for one very big reason: I do much of my reactivity work with Desmond during our morning walk. All his other exercise comes from play and the dog park, unless my husband walks him very late at night to avoid dogs. (I completely realize we need to start working with Desmond on this on weekends during the day at the park, the pet supply store, the groomer's parking lot, etc., but I was working with him the last two months at my mentor training class at least).

So, when I get up at 5 and hurry to get that half a pill in Desmond, it still won't kick in until close to 6--which is when our walk is just about ending. He comes back in, eats breakfast, and plops down somewhere. Awesome. So glad he's calm in my living room. (That's sarcasm.)

If we give him the pill before my husband goes to bed around midnight, that doesn't help either, because it will be "gone" by the time we take our walk. I really need to wake up at like 4:30 to give him the pill, but that's just not going to happen. There has to be another way.

 I have since tried giving him the whole 100mg at 5 AM and that doesn't work, either. I mean, after we get home and he eats, he's napping within a few minutes. Frustrating to say the least, especially if we have one of his "bad walks".

"Hark! I hear a squirrel!"
Our next step is to try giving him a total of 150mg--one pill in the morning and half a pill at dinnertime. After that, I would try moving the half pill closer to my bedtime and then Joey's. I know we can also go up to 200mg without a problem, but that could wind up being as costly as actual prescription meds.

All that being said, I know we really need to give it 60 days before we make a judgment call.

I'm also seriously considering hiring my mentor trainer to help me work with him via private lessons. Some days are great and we make progress, but on the days that are not so great, I know I get stressed out and that doesn't help matter. I need someone detached from the situation to assess what I'm doing wrong and how I can do things differently and to see his reactions while we're on walks.

Eventually, we'll figure out the right combination of chemical and training help.

As for his digestion issues, that's another long post, so I'll spare you today. For now I'll say that there's a very good chance the anxiety and his vomiting are related, but not for the reasons we all guessed.

***
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

If Everybody Else is Doing It...

My dog easily succumbs to peer pressure.

He often doesn't like it when his wonky little princess paws have to touch pavement, let alone water, or--GASP--a dirty puddle, but he hardly needs a leg twisting if the other dogs are all playing in the absolutely filthy wet sand at the dog park. Little does he realize this leads immediately to a bath and manicure.





***

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Desmond Graduates from Obedience School

Part of my work as a student at Animal Behavior College is an externship with a mentor trainer. That externship has three parts: observation, participation, assistance/teaching. For each part, you attend a full 7-week group class.

We just finished our participation section of the externship, and I'm very proud.

I wound up doing all the actual obedience work with Desmond at home, because we used our class time to work on his reactivity. Things were not going well when we started, but by the last day of class, Desmond was able to join the group.

That's not to say he is "cured"--I believe this will be a lifelong challenge--but it does mean there is much hope for him out in the real world (on walks, in cars, at the door, on a tie-out, at the vet's office, at an outdoor cafe). Now I feel confident to start working hard with him on his reactivity on my own. I was doing some things here and there, but this experience has greatly helped me understand what to do and how to do it. Oh happy day!

My fabulous mentor trainer, Helen of SmartyPawsNY, even sent everyone pictures from graduation day.








There are also two great group shots of everyone in the class and their dogs, but I didn't want to plaster the faces of others all over the blog without permission. These photos do, however, live on Facebook. Click here if you'd like to see them. The comments left on one of the shots made me very happy.

My assisting/teaching class starts in September, so hopefully by year's end, I will be the one who's graduating.

***

Have you voted for Desmond today? Help us win a GUND® plush toy made in Desmond's likeness by voting for his official photo entry HERE. You can vote once a day. Vote & share, folks. Vote & share!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Doggie Play Date

A few weeks ago, Desmond's DBFFs Jackie & Luca came over for a play date. Jackie, as you may recall, is one of Desmond's many girlfriends (others include Kona and Miss Tori  from Dog is God in Reverse --although with Tori , Desmond's more of a creepy stalker than boyfriend). He's not really into the whole monogamy thing. What can I say?

The pups enjoyed playtime, pool time, and raw marrow bone time! It was Desmond's very first taste of such a thing, and I think he was pretty happy about it. Courtesy of Jax & Luca's mom, known around the blog as Aunt Jane, here is photographic evidence of said play date.

Luca, an Italian mastiff aka cane corso mix, and Jackie, a French mastiff aka dogue de Bordeaux

I love this shot of Luca!

Desmond spent some time contemplating the pool before going into it, each and every time he approached it



Of course, there was some drinking from the pool


Sometimes I seriously can't tell if he's happy or freaked out, because his body language cues don't go together. What do you make of this?

Pawing at the water

Interrupting Luca's lounge for a sip



Jackie gets in on it


Oh, Desmond--please fix your ear



This is one of my fave shots of the day because of the drops of water coming off his paw



This is a dog who appreciates a pool. Unlike my dog.




Marrow-bone action. Luca & Jackie were already familiar with these tasty treats, but this was Desmond's first time.

And he wasn't even that confused! Hooray!







Many thanks to Jane & Tim and Luca & Jackie for coming over to play with us!

***

Have you voted for Desmond today? Help us win a GUND® plush toy made in Desmond's likeness by voting for his official photo entry HERE. You can vote once a day. Vote & share, folks. Vote & share! 
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