Monday, December 23, 2013

Pet Product Review: Earth's Balance Pill Paste for Dogs

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time getting my dog to take his pills and have been hunting for something--anything--that would make him snarf them down like they were steak-liver-cheddar-pizza-tacos in jerky form (I've yet to find any jerky you can hide medication in).

We've tried a few things, including human food of various kinds, canned dog food, and Pill Pockets by Greenies. But nothing has been quite what we're looking for, so the hunt for an easy way to get our dog to take his pills continues.

Next up? Earth's Balance Pill Paste.

Earth's Balance Pill Paste in bacon and peanut butter flavors
Pill Paste and Desmond's morning meds
What attracted me to Pill Paste immediately was the fact that it isn't greasy or sticky. Typically, preparing Desmond's medications for ingestion involved grease marks on the counters and the need to wash your hands 19 times before you won't smell like dog-approved-flavor du jour anymore.

A non-greasy, non-stinky way to hide your pet's medication
Peanut buttery! 
The other awesome thing is that you can dispense as much or as little of it as you would like--meaning you can use just enough to cover the pill without extra treat that might cause your dog to actually have to chew on it. Thus avoiding Desmond biting into the pill and subsequently spitting it out while giving me a dirty look.

Two very intriguing qualities of Pill Paste, to say the least.

Their flavor offerings of peanut butter and bacon seemed pretty good, too. Desmond does actually like those human foods. Or at least he does when he's not being a picky little brat face.

(editor's note: every time i type a mean thing about desmond, i always turn to look at him--he tends to be nearby while i'm writing blog posts--because i feel kind of bad calling him names. right now he's napping on the couch with his head on the armrest and the light is coming in at an angle making him look downright movie-cliche angelic. *swoon* you're not really a brat face, desmond. i take it back. you're a handsome devil.)

The paste is also low in fat, doesn't crumble, and won't dry out. On top of this, Earth's Balance products are made in the USA and are, as the name might imply, earth friendly and natural.

But what does all of this mean? What was the outcome here?

Well, I definitely prefer this to the Pill Pockets. I really like that it's NOT greasy and gross and stinky. And I really like that I can use the exact amount I want, and it's easy to shape just enough around the pill without cracking and pieces crumbling off.

Pill Paste can be easily molded around the pills, using the minimum amount needed
Same three pills as shown above. This was the first time I used the paste, and I would say I used too much of it here.
Since then, I've used less and less. Easy peasy.
The canisters are supposed to last through 30 pills, but I think you can make it go farther.
Yes, I do know that you can take the Pill Pockets apart and use only as much as want, but they are seriously greasy. It's gross. And Desmond doesn't just take those as treats, so it's not like they even have that going for them.

I also really like that it comes in this tiny canister, like shoe polish size. It's very easy to store or pack up if you need to, say, hand it off to the pet sitter.

That being said, he didn't want anything to do with the Pill Paste either, really. I couldn't get him to take the pills as treats with the peanut butter flavor, but he did take the bacon flavor once with us just handing it to him like a treat, but I think that was more Desmond saying, "Ooh what is this new edible you have for me?"

For the most part, I think Desmond is just onto us. He knows what's up. And he's not going to fall for it. So the only real way to get him to take them at all is to include them with a bunch of other things he definitely wants. This is where jerky comes in handy (and canned dog food), as a decoy.

Tricking the dog into taking his pills
Trick AND Treat
I don't think there's any way to get around it. We have to just keep tricking him into eating these things. But I do think that I will make the switch to the Pill Paste. I prefer dealing with it and handling it over any of the other options we've tried so far. Pill Paste is the winner, as far as this human is concerned.

The hunt will continue, though. If I can find something that will make Desmond take the pills with no issues at all, I will buy it bulk and probably purchase some stock as well.

What do you use to get your dog to take his medication? Am I missing some great secret? Help me out in the comments!

[FTC disclaimer]: Earth's Balance provided us with 1 canister of peanut butter Pill Paste and 1 canister of bacon Pill Paste in exchange for an honest review of their product.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Time! The Meet the Bloggers Blog Hop is Here

Today's the day, you guys. It's time for all the pet bloggers to come out from behind their furry family members and give everyone a peek into their own lives, separate from the animals. (I know it's hard to believe, but I really do have more going on than being the local Crazy Dog Lady.)

Full instructions and badges/code can be found here, but basically you create your own post where you answer the questions and share a recent photo of yourself; then you link up to the hop, so you can visit the other bloggers and get to know them a little better.

This blog hop idea was partially born from a discussion regarding women—and pet bloggers (who tend to be women and do a good job of purposely putting their pets out in front)—having a non-stellar comfort & approval level of their physical selves.

We realized we were doing a lot of sitting around focusing on our own faults and avoiding putting ourselves out there. 99 million pix of the dog and none of you? We can do better.

And, yeah, this is the big scary internet (I really do not want to become the subject of a meme), but both the readers and the writers deserve something more.

Half the point of this exercise is to stop hiding--theoretically and physically--behind the dog, behind the cat, behind the kids, behind the chair, behind the table, behind the whatever-is-around-you-can-block-yourself-with, behind the keyboard. Stop criticizing everything you see in yourself (other people probably don't see those things anyway). It will improve your outlook on life, and it could improve your blog, too.

And this blog hop is an easy and fun way to get started.

So that's why I put together this little collection of photos that I admittedly do not love. Because there's actually nothing wrong with them, and there's nothing wrong with me, and there's nothing wrong with my favorite color being pink, and there's nothing wrong with the fact that--yes, actually--smiling IS my favorite (which is something that seems apparent to me as I look at them now, even though that's not what I was thinking when I first saw each one).

And there's nothing wrong with YOU either. And that's why you should join this blog hop.

A huge thank you goes out to all the other ladies also co-hosting this hop! My fabulous, beautiful, funny, super-smart co-hosts are...

Jodi from Kol's Notes
Amy from Go Pet Friendly
Mel from No Dog About It
Julie from The Daily Dog Blog
Kim from CindyLu's Muse
Leslie from Bringing Up Bella
Kristine from Rescued Insanity
Peggy from Peggy's Pet Place
Dawn from NEPA Pets
Jodi from Heart Like A Dog

Check out my answers to the Meet the Bloggers questions below and then get in on the fun yourself!

What's your favorite non-animal-related book? All-time fave is Ethan Frome. And I was really, really affected by Eat, Pray, Love.

What's your favorite non-animal-related movie? I don't have a favorite movie. I'm kind of weird about movies (much to Joey's dismay). However, there are flicks that I will watch whenever they are on like, Clueless, Legally Blonde, Elf, any of the Narnia movies, any of the LOTR movies, My Cousin Vinny, Army of Darkness, Old School, Anchorman, Spice World, Now & Then, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and probably a bunch more that are not going to win any awards, but that I think are great. I'm 99% in it for the popcorn, to be honest.

What's your favorite non-animal-related food? Generally speaking, I feel like a meal is not a meal unless there's meat in it. And even my non-meat faves probably involve animal product/byproduct in some way. A vegan I am not. So I feel this leaves only veggies. Can I choose fries if not cooked in animal fat??? Potatoes are sort of maybe still a little bit of a vegetable. If pressed at gunpoint, I'd choose string beans. 

Who's your favorite actor? Tough call. There really is no one person whose shows/movies I will see no matter what. Probably closest to that is Leonardo DiCaprio, but I admit I'm biased because he's totally my boyfriend. Is Jon Stewart considered an actor? If so, he is also my favorite. And also my boyfriend. 

What's one thing you have to do every day? Eat breakfast. Cannot function without it. Also, put on Chapstick 498534985674986459869223465 times. And check for the sunrise and sunset. I try to catch both every day. You can see evidence of this on my Instagram feed and Facebook feed

What makes you feel fabulous? Doing something well. Eating incredible food. Tasting fabulous wine. Laughing. A beautiful pair of shoes that is also comfortable to walk in. When people notice the details I spent time focusing on. 

What do you wish you were more skilled at? Cooking. Time management. Multitasking. Gardening. Math. Having patience with people. 

What's your favorite holiday? 4th of July & NYE. I LOVE fireworks. There's some associations here with my husband, too, but I'm not going to get all gross and romantical on you. 

What's your favorite meal? All of the things. No, but seriously, definite three-way tie between giant platters of meat & cheese, tacos, and Thanksgiving dinner.

What do you like to do in your free time? Eat and drink and watch TV. I freakin love TV. But I wish we went hiking more.

What one word would people who know you use to describe you? Neurotic. 

If your pets could talk, what one word would THEY use to describe you? Busy.

What is one thing you've done that you're most proud of? This is less about one specific thing I've done but I'm pretty satisfied with my editorial career. I'm proud of where I am today in my work life.

How is your pet most like you? We both love cheese, and we're both freezing all the time.

What can your body do for you that makes you most proud? Um ... metabolize food? I love food. I love that we can taste and enjoy food. Walking's good too. I like that my body can walk semi-long distances.

If you could change one thing about your life what would it be? More freedom to do what I really want to do, and not what other people want/expect me to do, would be a-maze-ing. Oh, and I'd throw or give away even more of our belongings than we already have. I still feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff. I do not feel minimalist enough yet.

Other than blogging, what are three things you do that bring you joy? Have I mentioned anything about eating food yet?? Also drinking of wine. Good wine. Like, yummy wine that was made with care and love, not necessarily expensive/fancy wine (although I am not opposed to that!). I am done buying crap wine. Life is too short, and I enjoy it too much. Finally, cooking while watching the sunset--which I can do in our kitchen--because I love both activities, so the combination is super. And if I can do that while drinking good wine? That is the stuff dreams are made of. I love the view from our house, and I appreciate it more than ever. And no hurricane can take away my wine--because I will evacuate with that obviously.

What's one thing you could do to be more kind to yourself? Stop comparing myself to everyone else. And stop agreeing to things I don't really want to agree to.

What drives you nuts about your pets? The never-ending whining and puking. The RE-AC-TIV-I-TY. 
What melts your heart? That face. His love of snuggling. His rare moments of obvious joy.

If you didn't have your current pets, what pets would you choose to have? Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Here's where this blog hop goes south for me, eh? Desmond has provided some ... challenges. As has life in general (through no fault of his). So, here is my possibly-best-kept secret. I really don't think I would choose to have any pets at this point if we didn't have Des. Like, if everything were the exact same in my life, minus Des, I'm pretty sure I'd opt for a pet rock. Even the Chia gnome is too much for me right now. I do have a dream of fostering senior dogs later in life, but that's not really the question, is it? OK, now I just feel like a bad dog mom, bad dog blogger, and bad dog-trainer-type. Can someone send me some good wine & cheese to make me feel better?

Now that you have subjected yourself to all of THAT, why not go for some more? I bet some of the other bloggers will have equally incredibly entertaining things to tell you. Hit the blog hop below!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Things I Forgot

So, I was going through pix for this post and discovered a slew of shots from our review of Happy Dog Box--that I totally forgot I even had and never posted with the review itself. Oops. Bad blogger. But, hey, here they are now!

In case you can't tell, this serious piece of collage art features Desmond giving the camera a dirty look and includes photos of him sniffing things, playing with a treat-dispensing toy, and stretching next to a bully stick instead of eating it.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Have You Met the Bloggers?

You know, all those crazy kids slaving over their keyboards to regale you with funny, crazy, heartwarming tales of their pets?

I bet that there are quite a few blogs you follow that have told you all about the dogs and cats and bunnies and alligators of the household but nothing about the humans taking care of said animals. Tsk tsk, bloggers! Hiding behind your laptop screens, thinking we won't wonder about you.

Personally, I love getting to know the people behind the pets. It makes me feel like this is all real somehow, and if it turns out that another blogger shares my love for 90210 or beer, then we can totally be besties. Don't worry--I'm not going to stalk any of you! I'm far too lazy.

But really, don't you wish you knew more about the humans? Well, here's your chance to find out everybody's favorite color, whether or not smiling is someone's favorite, and more. And if you're a blogger reading this, here is your chance to tell everyone all about yourself for once. Step out of the shadows while your pets curl up at your feet to keep you warm as you type.

It's time for the Meet the Bloggers Blog Hop, co-hosted by a slew of fabulous folks, including (in no particular order of awesomeness)...

Jodi from Kol's Notes
Amy from Go Pet Friendly
AJ from I Still Want More Puppies
Mel from No Dog About It
Julie from The Daily Dog Blog
Jen from My Brown Newfies 
Kim from CindyLu's Muse
Leslie from Bringing Up Bella
Kristine from Rescued Insanity
Peggy from Peggy's Pet Place
Dawn from NEPA Pets
Jodi from Heart Like A Dog

On December 18th, link up with us in the Meet the Bloggers hop to tell the world all about YOU. It's fun and it's super easy.

All you have to do is...

1) Post a recent pic of yourself (if you're about to be attending your 15-year-reunion, please leave those high school shots in the photo album). We want to see the you your pets love now!

2) Answer the following questions or as many as you feel comfortable with--but at least 5, pretty please. While the entire point of this is to encourage sharing, we won't hunt you down if you stick to just the 5 minimum. I already promised no stalking. But 5 seems healthy, if you're afraid of TMI.

What's your favorite non-animal related book?
What's your favorite non-animal related movie?
What's your favorite non-animal related food?
Who's your favorite actor?
What's one thing you have to do every day?
What makes you feel fabulous?
What do you wish you were more skilled at?
What's your favorite holiday? 
What's your favorite meal? 
What do you like to do in your free time?
What one word would people who know you use to describe you? 
If your pets could talk, what one word would THEY use to describe you? 
What is one thing you've done that you're most proud of? 
How is your pet most like you? 
What can your body do for you that makes you most proud? 
If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?
Other than blogging, what are three things you do that bring you joy?
What's one thing you could do to be more kind to yourself?
What drives you nuts about your pets? What melts your heart?
If you didn't have your current pets, what pets would you choose to have?

3) Link your post up to the official blog hop. This is all going down on the 18th.

Here now for your blogging pleasure is a selection of super snazzy badges that you can add to your posts, your sidebar, or both (grab the code in the little text box under the badge of your liking) and the code for the actual blog hop linky list (which won't be live until the 18th but is useful for drafting your post in advance if you so choose)! If you have any questions or technical difficulties, let me know and I'll do my very best to assist. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Meet the Pet Bloggers Hop
Meet the Pet Bloggers Hop
Meet the Pet Bloggers Hop

Monday, December 2, 2013

Desmond Gets Into the Christmas Spirit

In his typical Desmond way. We're not sending Christmas cards this year, but I figured I'd throw the hat on him while we were decorating the house. Mostly for our own amusement. This is the expected result. I do not think he would make it in Santa's workshop. He can't even muster up the energy to yell like the Scrooge that he is.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#FueltheLove with Zuke's Z-Filets - Enter to Win

You guys. It's Zuke's time again!

Back in the spring we had a fabulous giveaway for you with yummy Zuke's Z-Bones, and today we've got a different Zuke's giveaway--for Z-Filets!

At this point, I am pretty sure everyone who reads this blog knows how much we love all the Zuke's treats. I mean, we really do. There are always Zuke's in our house, of various types.

So, I'm not going to go on and on about the Z-Filets. Instead, I'm going to share some photos and a video of Desmond going crazy for the treats (if I can get it to work...), plus some info from Zuke himself!

OK, well, no. I mean, Zuke is a dog, so he can't really tell us about the treats. It would just sound like a lot of woofing and there would probably be slobber all over everyone by the time we finished. Let's just go with the official word from the company then, eh?
  1. Z-Filets – Healthy Grain-Free Filets for Dogs
    Ideal for customers who want jerky treats that are made in the USA, or a limited-ingredient or grain-free rewards. Grilled Chicken, Grilled Beef, and Grilled Venison re-sealable 3.25 oz and 7.5 oz pouches. 
    •  All meat comes from US or New Zealand: safe, trustworthy sources
    •  Meat is 80% of treat: ideal for dogs on limited-ingredient or grain-free diets
    •  Nutrient-rich rosemary, sage and turmeric: powerful sources of an4oxidants
    •  Large treats easily tear into smaller pieces: perfect for any breed or for use in interactive toys
Y'all, does that not sound good? Zuke's sent over all three flavors, and I honestly can't figure out which one Des likes best. He doesn't really seem to care or notice they are different. He just wants them. Whichever flavor. All of them.

Chicken, venison, and beef

One of the best things about these filets is that you can really easily break them up in to smaller pieces--pretty much as small as you want--with two fingers, while not even looking. I was able to break them up into really tiny pieces with one hand while trying to get Desmond to focus on me instead of what was going on on the countertop.

The bags show what look like grill marks on the filets, but those are actually perforations to help you break them up. I made my pieces even smaller.

Beef filet

Now, unfortunately, I did not get a pic or video of this one move Desmond did when I opened the bags and he went kind of nuts. I was trying to get him to do his "paws up" trick on our stairs. Dude was so excited that instead of doing paws up, he leapt onto the stairs--like 4 stairs up--and then ran up a couple and turned around and ran down. He doesn't even usually like to walk up the stairs. Then he looked up at me expectantly, like, "OK, I DID IT! I DID IT REAL GOOD! GIMME GIMME ZUKE'S!"

This was easily one of the funniest things I've seen him do, but his extreme wonkiness and tendency to be a klutz really doesn't make this a safe activity. Not that that stopped me from seeing if he'd do it again when I asked for paws up. He totally did. And it was even more hilarious the second time around. I know I'm a jerk, but I could not help it. I then tried getting him to do paws up on the couch arm, and he just freaking launched himself into the air and over the couch arm, onto the couch, and spun around, giving me the look again.

See that crazy dog there? Yeah, that's accurate advertising.

I wish I had a witness or a camera man or something, because this was some top-notch entertainment, man. Good stuff. I probably ruined "paws up" pretty good, but I don't even care. Excellent dog trainer example, Lauren. Way to go.

OK, here's a little more about Zuke's, the company (and a little bit about Zuke the dog!). A company I really really trust.

Where We Come From
In 1995, Patrick Meiering and his devoted dog, Zuke, took a long, glorious hike in the Colorado Mountains. Typically an energetic pup, Zuke became exhausted. So, Patrick broke off a piece of his energy bar, tossed it to him and Zuke perked right up. It was at that moment Patrick realized that pets need healthy, all-natural treats just as much as people do. From the beginning, Zuke’s has always been focused on providing healthy treats that fuel a pet’s daily adventures. The company was built on our dedication to being healthy, active, and devoted to our animal companions.

Dependable Quality: Your pet is Zuke’s top priority. Period. Making sure you can give the treats your pets love without worry is our goal. Zuke’s provides dependable, wholesome treats that help support a pet’s health and happiness.
Only The Best: A treat isn’t a treat unless it tastes good AND pet parents can feel good giving it. That’s why we removed the most common allergens – wheat, corn and soy – and made more room for the good stuff: high quality ingredients and good-for-you grains that support a healthy coat, lots of energy and a happy tummy.
Made in the USA: Zuke’s proudly manufactures all of our treats in the United States and we set the bar high for each of our suppliers, demanding the highest-quality ingredients. This ensures all of our tasty treats meet stringent US quality standards. With no recalls in our 18-year history, proof is in the pudding. Or should we say, the proof is in the treat?

Now, hang on just a second while I step in here and discuss what is or isn't easy on the stomach of my crazy dog. Desmond is very sensitive in the tummy. Nearly everything that goes in his mouth comes out of his butt in a way that no one wants hanging around with them. He's on a probiotic. We've tried various changes to his diet. I think he's just kind of this way and it is what it is. Some days are better than others, but he doesn't seem to be in severe pain or discomfort, even on his worst days.

So, that being said, after I gave him the Zuke's Z-Filets, his butt was doing some real room-clearing stuff. Granted, I gave him two whole filets and he ate some of his dinner (which we've been adding a calming supplement to that is making him stinky also) and his usual pile o'treats that goes along with his Pill Pockets (to assist in tricking him into taking his pills). So perhaps it's the combination of all that stuff together, but the only difference that day was the Zuke's. How can I not blame them for stinky butt? Then again, his excitement about them must have contributed. He's the type of dog who has to go potty and also pukes when he's excited.

[And on a total side note, can I just say that the last paragraph I typed made me think of not one but two South Park references. Maybe you know what I'm talking about...]

OK, I said I wasn't going to go on and on, but here we are anyway, huh? Sorry guys. One more photo, hopefully a video, and then, giveaway time. We're giving away the same three bags of Z-Filets that we got, to one lucky winner. Rafflecopter for entry is at the end!

Desmond giving me ten in exchange for some Z-Filets
And here is a short video of Desmond hunting down the handful of pieces of Z-Filet that I tossed across the room. Toward the end, he thinks he's gotten them all but isn't sure. You can see him look to me for help. All I did was point at the one left on the floor, and he went for it. He is normally not that slick, so I am telling you, he really likes the Z-Filets. Also, please don't judge my music choice. It was free, and I did this in a hurry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC disclosure: Zuke's is providing the prizes for this giveaway; I also received treats for my obviously honest review.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Happy Dog Box Review & Giveaway

Have you guys heard of Happy Dog Box? It's one of those services that provides you with a box full of awesome surprises every month, for one base price. 

I'm a big fan of these kinds of things, because I love the idea of sampling new products for my crazy but lovable dog. We tried the Bark Box for a while, actually, and it was pretty cool. But at the end of my 3-month subscription, I didn't bother renewing. In the end, we decided it was good but not the greatest thing ever. 

Then Happy Dog Box came along with this opportunity, and Desmond explained to me that it would be a matter of life and death if I didn't get a box in here right away. And boy am I glad I did.

That's a lot of good-lookin' goodies
By far, Desmond's favorite thing in the box. Kangaroo jerky. Who knew? 

I thought the products in this box were really good quality, and I love that it comes with a card telling you a little bit about each item. Getting some info on the products is great, but it also makes me feel confident that my box is the same as everyone else's, and we're not missing out on some hot treats or anything.

Other favorites from the box were--of course--the bully stick (Desmond seems to especially like these spiral types), the Dynamo Dog hip & joint treats (we're giving them to him every day, in place of his regular glucosamine supplement), and the treats dispensing toy. I put some stuff in there, and Desmond actually played with it. I mostly used treats small enough to just fall out as he batted it around. I'm not sure how this would fare with something larger that he has to work for. He's not the best employee at the company, if you know what I mean. He'll do the minimum required to avoid getting fired

I found it amusing that the poop bags & holder that were included in the box are the exact ones we already have. So I added it to a pile of donations for hurricane victims. People still need all kinds of things; I'm sure someone will appreciate it. 

Like other similar companies, Happy Dog Box is customized to the size of your dog. Desmond falls into the large category (the rep and I had a good laugh over Desmond's misleading skinny-butt looks). Here's a little description of the service their own words:
What’s in the box?
Every month you will receive a box of five or more premium products carefully selected from leading manufacturers and up-and-coming boutique brands around the country – anything from healthy treats, bones, and tough toys to hygiene products and new innovative gadgets! 
Worried about getting treats from China? I don't think that's gonna happen. Happy Dog Box says...
We source our treats from high-quality, independent treat manufacturers that are vetted for safety and quality. The treats we send are safe, healthy and delicious, GUARANTEED.
And nothing in our box caused my hesitation. In fact, some of the items in the box are featured on the site right now, so take a look here to read more about them (click on the top menu to find out what's in the box). 

Even better? Happy Dog Box is giving back to the community of dogs who aren't so lucky to have homes with families willing to supply them with never-ending awesome boxes of awesome treats and toys. 
It’s more than just a box of treats and toys. is committed to the happiness of dogs everywhere. That’s why we donate a portion of our profits to shelters in partnership with the San Francisco SPCA. It can be a hard life for these pups, so we do our best to provide healthy treats and fun toys to brighten their days. We might not be able to save every dog out there, but we want to do our part - four paws at a time. 
Want your own Happy Dog Box? Better yet, want multiple Happy Dog Boxes? I bet you do! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of two great prizes. First Place gets a 3-Month Subscription Second Place gets a 1-Month Subscription. Good luck! 

P.S.: This giveaway is run entirely by Happy Dog Box. I have no way of accessing the info to contact winners or anything like that. If you have issues with the Rafflecopter widget, you can let me know and I'll reach out to Happy Dog Box. 

Bonus pic of Desmond lookin' all cute slash annoyed to be alive, comin' right up:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received 1 Happy Dog Box for free from Happy Dog Box as coordinated by a rep from in consideration for review publication.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Separation Anxiety Relapse

Now that we are home, we really need to get back to our usual routines, and one of the huge obstacles to that is Desmond's separation anxiety, which has returned with a vengeance. I can only imagine how the poor guy feels. 

He was ripped from his home; brought all over the place for a month while we figured out where we were going to live; then spent 10 months getting acclimated to his new, temporary home; and now we're back in our house--which looks and smells nothing like it used to. Meanwhile, during the displacement, Desmond was pretty much never alone (we did try to leave him in my parents' apartment, but he right away starting tearing things up, so we had no choice but to stop that). So now he has to readjust to a new place and the concept of being alone at the same time. 

Desmond is still on his medication, and we have reintroduced both the D.A.P. diffuser and Composure chews to the mix, as well as some lovely solo piano music, courtesy of Pandora. Ultimately, we cannot leave him in the crate. We are simply gone for too many hours when we both are working in the office. And for Desmond, the act of leaving is far worse than actually being alone; so a mid-day dog walker would do nothing but stir him up all over again (plus, we really just don't want some random person in our house). 

Put those together, and we have decided to try leaving him in the den (which used to be our master bedroom) instead of in the living room/dining room/kitchen (where he used to be left), which is just too freakin nice to risk destroying. This dog destroying the main part of the house is all that's standing between me and clinical depression.

We spend pretty much all of our time in the den, and it's where I work when I work from home. Our TV is there; it's where we chill on the couch; it's where we eat (yes, we are those people who eat in front of the TV on the couch--I'd be ashamed if I didn't know you're secretly super jealous). 

Desmond's bed and his crate are also in there. We leave the crate open, so he can do what he wants with it. He's allowed on all the furniture. Our glamorous temporary blinds are up so he can't destroy those, and we put one of those self-adhesive privacy sheets on the windows (he gets plenty of light but can't see squirrels or cats in the yard or the people and dogs in the park). There's no reason he should be unhappy in there, other than the lack of our presence. 

But apparently none of this matters to him, because he's already destroyed the door and the molding. In fact, he ripped off the door guard we had up and then went to town on the door and molding. 

Now, let me ask you this: what the French is that door guard supposed to actually do if it can be ripped up and torn off so easily? What is this protecting? Which dogs is this stopping? 

To be clear, we didn't just peace out and see what would happen. We did the usual desensitizing process. We spent a week where we each got up every day at the eventual regular time and went through as regular a morning routine as possible--both getting fully ready for work, even though I was staying in the house. 

After that, we spent a day where we both got completely ready and then left him in the den, walked out the door, and came right back in, repeating that process over and over with slightly longer intervals of staying out of the house. We got up to almost a half hour, and everything was fine. I was feeling extremely relieved and hopeful, because I've been dreading this.

I mean, he was barking, crying, howling. He was definitely upset. But he didn't trash anything.

The next day we did it again, and for whatever reason, that's when he messed up the door and apparently ran all over the room, because we found evidence of minor disturbances. He actually managed to turn a lamp on--it's a touch lamp, but still. That's almost impressive.

Obviously, I'm distraught and disheartened. Look at our brand new door and molding, after Desmond's first attempt to get out:

What I found when I first opened the door 
Partially ripped off door guard 

We need to keep this dog from getting out of the den for the safety of the house and himself. So... Joey went and got plexiglass custom cut to protect the door and the molding. And then he screwed it into the door and rigged the side with velcro to help keep Desmond from pulling it off the molding.

I wish I had pix of this, because it was pretty serious looking. Alas, I do not have great ones--and the ones I do have I can't quite share here just yet (more on that soon enough). But it's a moot point, because guess who tore off the plexiglass? That's right. Hulk dog. But he only pulled off the part over the molding. He managed to snap it off, leaving really pointy shards sticking out from the door, but generally not harming the plexiglass over the door too much. Thank goodness he didn't hurt himself.

So we sanded it all down with the Dremel and then put tape all over everything to make it as safe as possible. We are desperate, what can I say. For the molding, Joey put a spare piece of door guard up over it and taped it down and screwed that all in as well. 

Check it. Super classy, right?

We'll try leaving him again over the next few days, but I really don't know what we're going to do if things don't change for the better, because--plain and simple--I have to go back to work in the office next week. He's going to be alone for the whole day, and there's not much we can do about it. 

We are going to try the Thundershirt again, plus we ran out and bought some more vitamin B, which once helped us here. Other options include increasing his meds, but I'm not sure that would even work. He seems to be able to pull energy from the universe to accomplish these things. And drugging him up doesn't solve the real problem anyway. 

The first time around, this took about 8 months to really go away. I want to jump out a window when I think about doing this for another 8 months. If things don't get any better in another couple weeks, I will probably have to call on my mentor trainer for help. Perhaps I am missing something. In the meantime, cross your fingers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 10: Home is Where the Dog Is...

And the dog is HOME. As in, our house that we own and have been paying a mortgage on for a year even though we weren't living there. That's right. If you haven't already heard here or on Facebook or on Instagram, we are all back in East Rockaway. We are all back home.

Although, not everything about being home feels like home. At this point in time, this house, the structure we are once again living in, is feeling like a building that fell from the sky. It is not the house we bought, that's for sure. That's not really a bad thing, but it's certainly an adjustment. An adjustment that is just one of many we've been through since last October 28th when we evacuated.

Today, October 29th, is the official anniversary of Sandy, whether you want to call her a hurricane or a superstorm or something else entirely. It makes no difference to me what she is called, though I have some choice words.

I have been having some trouble trying to come up with a way to talk about this anniversary and our return to East Rockaway, although I know it is necessary.  I promise if you read through this, you will be rewarded with photos of Desmond in his new habitat. 

I'm feeling very anxious and have a weird sense of, what I can only describe as, dread that I can't seem to shake. There's a candlelight vigil tonight in my community, and I'm not entirely sure I can handle going to it, though I plan to try.

We are home, but this is far from over. For anyone who is counting, our displacement total is 351 days. That's 11 months and 16 days.

As most of the folks we know who share this experience would agree, it's very hard to put into words exactly how you feel about what you've been through without sounding like you're talking about the end of the world or some horrific and tragic event caused by sick & twisted humans, as opposed to an act of nature--especially when you add to that the fact that a lot of people don't think Sandy was that big of a deal. 

I'm not mad about that, but those people didn't have multiple feet of water, gas, garbage, sewage, and god knows what else in their homes, overtaking their belongings and structures. 

Those people didn't leave their homes before the storm with an overnight bag, thinking there was going to be some water but things would be mostly OK--because we are all taught to ignore weather hype in the news. 

Those people haven't been displaced for a year, and displacement is not the vacation or minor change it may seem like to some. 

Those people didn't deal with the cleanup and demolition of their lives. 

Those people did not have to think about and handle the insane process afterward, involving never-ending confusing paperwork and figuring out what steps you should or shouldn't take to move forward.

They didn't get conflicting information from various government organizations at every turn. 

They aren't still waiting for that same government to figure out what is going on with the aid sent to help. 

Those people aren't battling the agony of wondering if a buyout might be the best--the only--option. 

They aren't realizing that the help to mitigate homes to safety probably isn't coming. And they most certainly don't know how very expensive it is to do that mitigation without help. Or how scary the thought of living in harm's way without raising is.  

Those people do not know what it feels like to live in limbo for so long, then be plopped back to "normal" and fully expected by those around you to just go back to the way everything was before the storm. That's impossible. You cannot go back. 

Those people don't understand that our being home doesn't mean this is over for us. It's not by a longshot.

Those people don't understand that there are still so very many people who aren't even close to going home. 

Those people just don't get it, but that's alright.

East Rockaway is as beautiful as ever, but how many of those houses are empty?
This one certainly is. It's one of the few houses in our neighborhood that's begun the very expensive lift process. We hope to see our house like this one day, sooner rather than later.
But how can people who are not affected get it? They don't share any of these experiences, and I don't fault them for that at all. I understand that they don't understand. But I'm also not going to let them make me feel like I'm overreacting. This has all been extremely stressful and difficult, despite what our happy faces have been telling the world. 

So, yes, we are home, and we are beyond grateful and lucky to be home, and we love our "new" house as much as we loved our house before. Please don't misunderstand or think we are taking this for granted. It is just ... weird. And we are still waiting on so many things. One of those things being Desmond's return to normal. 

We gave him a couple weeks to just get used to us being here now, but things have been a little chaotic during the return home, as they would be with any move. We also aren't done with workers coming in to finish things up or fix things they didn't quite get right the first time. 

I'm still working from home for the moment, because my bosses are amazing and wonderful people, but not only do I need to get back to the office soon--I also want to. I miss people. It can feel a bit like some sort of alternate reality being in the house all the time. And that's still a true story, because we have only just begun working on leaving the dog alone and the whole separation anxiety thing. Literally, we started on Sunday. And it's already not going well. But that's a topic that deserves its own post, so I'll leave you with those pix I promised earlier. 

If you would like to see all the posts about the hurricane and our displacement and Desmond's related anxiety, click here: Life With Desmond's Life With Sandy

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