Category Archives: Animals

Doggy Diet Danger

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Doggy Diet Danger

Yes yes, I am one of those freakish Dog-People who puts her fur kids first above all else. My dogs are not my whole life, but they truly do make my life whole and complete, not to sound completely cliche. After 14yrs of life with my Pomeranian-Schipperke, Osita, we made the family decision together to get a new dog friend. The first month with our new Sato (stray island mutt), Hennessy went beautifully smooth, way to smooth in fact. I should have known better.

I wanted life to be easy on all parties involved and had the best of intentions of instilling fairness on all levels within my two girls lives. I made my first mistake by assuming these two very different dogs would need exactly the same things. I so very badly wanted them to love each other like true sisters so I enforced the same rules and gave the same privileges to both Osita & Hennessy. I attempted to merge my two dogs lives into one without considering each of their individual needs. Looking back now I can see exactly what I did wrong. I made a mistake similar to a new mother who already has a teenager in the household, instilling sameness in areas that so obviously needed individual attention for each (fur)kid’s needs. I did not show respect for Osita’s 14 year old body needs and then further disrespected her by taking away almost every freedom and priviledge that she had been used to as I attempted to teach Henny about our household rules and train her. No more couches or beds, locked doors and fenced in gated areas, no more free roaming and coming back as she pleased, no freedom and less of Mama’s time. I inadvertently knocked Osita off her much deserved Alpha still wouldn’t eat and post¬†and in doing so gave Henny the impression that she was Alpha over us all.

All of a sudden anything that Henny wanted she bullied into taking from us and would snap at me if I tried to discipline her at all. When Henny began showing signs of food aggression that became violent I realized we had to nip that in the butt immediately. When she attacked me in my sleep for rolling over and accidentally touching her while she had a treat in her mouth I realized what a severe problem we had on our hands. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

We are working on establishing new ground rules every day but this one is the most important ever for her own safety and the safety of all others that visit our home. I learned a lot from watching a dog walker/handler that I stayed with back in San Fransisco handle her own, her clients, and my dog and things I watched her do and say was stored away in my memory banks. Back then I didn’t understand why she had set certain ground rules of hierarchy during feeding time but after being attacked by my own dog I understood immediately.

Hennessy is a rescued island sato, so her food aggression comes from fear and anxiety, not alpha dominance. We are working fast to establish consistent routines that make her feel safe and at the same time let’s her know who the Alpha in her family is.
Our new routine flows as followed:
– Exercise before mealtime to reduce hunter mentality
– I enjoy my breakfast first in front of the girls (I always felt so rude for doing this before but I respect the importance of it now)
– Osita eats her meal while Hennessy sits and waits patiently outside
– Hennessy eats last and she eats small portions at a time from my hand until she learns my hands near her food means rewards and love

I apologize for not making myself perfectly clear before you stepped paws into our household baby Henny girl. You will always get good consistent meals, you will never be touched forcefully, and you will Always get love. BUT…..I am Alpha, don’t forget it young lady. ūüí™ūüŹĺ

Just as we nipped the food agression in the butt I began noticing a severe change in Osita’s mood and behavior. After 14 years of life together, I am just as in tune with her as she is with me and my moods. She stopped playing, wouldn’t react when I asked her to come or go for a walk, refused to eat, and got sick several times a day. I could literally feel my little girl wasting away by the day so we backtracked super fast. I began to watch everything super closely and pulled everything in her life out for individual review. She would bounce back to her regular spunky attitude as soon as she was out of the house alone with me and Henny was left behind.¬†Osita is an incredibly sensative dog so at first I considered that maybe she was more than a little sad about the severe changes in her lifestyle. She would immediately regain her ultra dramatic depressed attitude when we returned to Henny and I still couldn’t get her to eat.

My next step was putting all her raw diet and old kibble food elements in separate bowls and watching to see what she selected. I was honestly shocked when given the option she kept selecting her dog kibbles over the meat, sweet potatoes, eggs and rice she had loved so much last month. Trust and have faith. I trusted that she knew what she needed and for the next week I proceeded to give her every option available and allowed her to essentially make up her own meals this way. I checked in with our vet and they assured me that backing off on Osita’s raw diet was the right move. Since she had never before in her life eaten a completely raw diet it was wrong of me to attempt to alter her what her body had been accustomed to. We have since found a balance of a little bit of everything and I swiftly noticed Osita’s energy levels increase.

Today I looked up from my crocheting to see both my girls enjoying their separate and completely different meals at their own separate paces and my heart exploded in happiness. As I was sitting there beaming with pride for my little ladies, Osita finished her entire meal and went over to Hennessy and began their usual post meal nuzzle & tussle routine. We did it! With far less effort than I had realized, all it truly took from me was consistency and patience, the girls both learned and relearned super fast. We have regained balance within our household and I am still learning lots everyday about how to handle Osita & Hennessey’s individual needs. I read lots of websites, books and got advice from vets and friends before we began the raw diet transition. There is so much to consider that we humans might not be aware of when it comes to our fur kids needs. I loved this article found online

How To Make Raw Dog Food: A Primer 

I am still learning and I would love to know Anything & Everything that does and doesn’t work for other people’s dogs during the raw diet transition. It takes a tribe to raise a youngster and I appreciate the knowledge gained from others. Please comment below with any suggestions and advice that you may have.

If you live in the Oakland/Bay Area, have fur kids that you love dearly and want the best possible care for them, contact Claire who owns Ruffin’ Around and can be found on DogVacay. She has more than 10 years of experience, provides a wide range of Dog Services such as Dog Walking & Boarding, and can help with a lot of different types of behavioral patterns while your fur kids are in her care.

Ruffin’ Around

 

Puppy Party: Meet Our Adopted Family Addition

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Puppy Party: Meet Our Adopted Family Addition

I have a fur kid tradition of always trying to pair up my old souls with young bucks. When one dog reaches retirement age, I bring some fresh blood onto the playing field to liven things up a bit. It is my belief that the younger dog will help perk up and make life interesting for the older dog, and the older pup will help teach the younger the ways of our world. This also creates a smooth transition for me when the time comes for one of my babies to move on to doggy heaven.

A small part of me was looking forward to some non-puppy-parenting freedom, but if I’m honest with myself, I know that I will never be happy in a dog free household.¬†My best girl is a mixed breed Pomeranian-Schipperke, Osita, and has been an only child for almost a decade now. Osita & I have been together for over 13 years, have traveled the world, and experienced many of life’s great adventures together. She is so much more than just my best friend. My dog is highly sensitive to my illnesses and can help myself and others notice when my symptoms are about to put me in danger. She is the most easy going dog anyone has ever met, and that is not just her proud overly biased Mama speaking. I can give a list of references of her fan base.

I live on an island where stray dogs in need of homes is very common and when a friend approached me to help her find a home for a foster in need I began getting out my list of dog rescue contacts. Even though the timing was perfect, I was not of the mind state to take in a new family member. Silly me, I should have known universal energy was much stronger than my own free will. When I met Mango in person I had the sensation akin to deja vu. As if I had already known and loved this dog in another life. The decision as made for us, Osita & I tried to be rational and smart about the process, but we were already head over heels in love with this little lady.

Over a period of two weeks we baby-stepped the move in process and made sure all parties involved were accepting of this merger. This week we made it official and adopted Mango. Meet the newest member of our family! 

She arrived with the name Mango, but is not responsive to the name so we are utilizing this time to learn her personality and allow her to come up with something fitting. Osita has accepted this new lady into our home beautifully and is already proving herself to be a loving and patient big sister.

Osita has a morning routine of getting five minutes of full body rubs and snuggles and then she gets a frisky morning playtime attitude. Yesterday, I didn’t even have to get involved! I woke up to Osita cleaning Mango’s eyes and when they saw me awake Osa quickly stopped and started doing her little gruff and pounce “come play with me” dance to Mango. Mango did her customary head tuck/half lay down with her butt up in the air, all submissive like, but Osa kept at it and eventually she understood this meant playtime. They didn’t Actually start full on playing but they’re getting there Fast and I can tell they will have the same style of “rough house”.

I spent the day puppy proofing our yard and garden space so that the girls have the freedom to wander in and out of the house at will. A couple hours were spent down in my little garden space weeding and just hanging out down there so Mango understands that the garden is her area too. The girls love the neighbor dog, Lena, a sweet little Boston Terrier. Lena gets her favorite toy and shakes it by the fence as my girls come running up and bounce around wagging their tails at her. 

Yesterday while Bulleit was here (another friend’s dog, apparently I have become the dog whisperer/sitter over night), I had all the dogs laying on my bed and floor as I painted. It was Heaven! I love all the fur kids around, feeling their energy both calm and energize me. I have to do three times the cleaning because they shed different than Osa, but its worth every broom stroke.
I am so happy that Osita now has a little buddy when I leave home for brief periods of time and blessed that our new little lady is adjusting to her new life so fast! Stay tuned for when we announce our little lady’s new name!

Adopting A Deaf Kitten

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Adopting A Deaf Kitten

Let me begin by saying, I am a dog person and have never owned a cat before. ¬†I had never met a “cool cat” so I didn’t know what I was missing out on. My Pomeranian, Osita, whose name means Little Bear in Spanish, on the other hand, has it absolutely twisted and thinks she is a Cat Mama and continuously guides strays and kittens back to our house and attempts to nurse them. I usually give everyone my One Day Rule which means they get shelter and food for a day and then either send them on their way or contact our local animal rescue, DAR (Defensa Animal Rescue) foundations to find the felines homes. One tiny kitten¬†in particular had a very special circumstance that allowed her to slip her tiny way into my heart before I even knew what hit me.

When this kitten first showed up on my balcony I watched it from a distance wondering what on earth was wrong with it. It was screeching non stop and pacing back and forth in a wobbly pattern while making harsh jerking motions with its head and entire body. I have seen a cat get high and trip out after biting a gecko of some sort in the woods and I thought maybe something like that had happened to this kitten as well. I kept my distance and hoped it would just go away but it didn’t, nor did it ever stop screeching and pacing all over my balcony. I decided to give it my One Day Rule and dropped some food on the porch for it and stepped back to observe. Watching this kitten eat was an even more bizarre scene. The jerky head motions were extremely exaggerated to the point where it looked like the kitten’s head and neck was just flopping around on its tiny body. No way I wanted anything to do with this thing, so I contacted DAR¬†to come take it away.

On the day that DAR was coming to pick up the kitten I noticed something that changed my mind instantly. It was sitting on the edge of a step facing away from me and when I approached her from behind she didn’t budge. I stomped my foot, clapped my hands, whistled, and yelled at her and she sat completely still simply gazing peacefully out at the street below. She couldn’t hear me at all. She was deaf. She was special and she would need a special home and family. I couldn’t allow her to go anywhere else than here with my partner, Jibby, and I. Jibby¬†has experience with interpretative sign language and I have recently had a set of beautiful¬†experiences with fostering cats that had¬†tougher than average personalities and special needs. We were both perfectly equipped to give this baby girl a happy and safe forever home.¬†When the Universe speaks how dare you not listen with an open mind and heart. So I cancelled the pick up call and informed the rescue group that I would be adopting her myself.¬†The kitten was given the name Toque, which means “touch” in Spanish and we call her Toquita at times because she is still a wee thing and the name suits her.

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Jibby & I had just discussed a month prior our exact prerequisites for “the perfect cat” for our new family, and ironically this kitten held them ALL. We wanted a female cat that was a tough cookie but still let us snuggle her when we wanted who was primarily an outdoor cat that liked to come inside to visit from time to time and was ok with a bath when it was needed. I don’t know much about how cats are supposed to act, but so far she’s not much different than my dog Osita. Although that could possibly be because Osita thinks she is a cat and is currently help raise her new kitten and Toquita now thinks she’s a dog. Their bond is adorable to witness and I love watching our new kitten mimic her dog sister and mock her movements.

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Even before we began reading up on what special things were required for raising a deaf cat we were able to notice a lot of little quirks she has and figured out ways to help her cope. We read that cats can‚Äôt tell us that they‚Äôre hard of hearing, and they compensate by paying more attention with their other senses and are startled a lot more easily. They sleep more, meow loudly¬†(because they can’t hear themselves), watch owners and other pets more closely, and cue off of their behavior to know that somebody‚Äôs at the door, for example. Deaf cats¬†also pay closer attention to vibration, air currents,¬†and lights. We learned how to utilize those sensations to teach her instead of scare her. I can blow on her fur or tap the ground for vibration to get her attention or get her to move in the direction I want to. Flickering the lights will initially get her attention and shadows can guide her towards where to actually look. Other times the shadows can just distract her like they are doing right now, as I type this she is chasing her own shadow all around the room, pounce rolling across the floor to tackle it, then jumping and hissing when she bumps into something she didn’t see coming. Life will never be the same with this one around, I can already tell. We¬†read that a laser pointer is actually a helpful tool in training and signalling deaf cats so we’re¬†looking forward to getting one soon and testing that theory out. I absolutely love learning about her special needs and teaching her new things. ¬†Jibby taught me to try to stay consistent with my hand motions and keep them slow and direct so as not to confuse her. Since Toque is mainly an outdoor cat with a dirty rough and tumble tom boy personality, I began giving her weekly baths to get her used to water and just like her sister, Osita, her favorite part of bath time is the towel snuggling that follows. We got lucky that we were able to introduce her to bath time at such a young age and make it an enjoyable experience for her.

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I love all animals and I have such a tender spot for anything that has special needs. Everything that I have read has mentioned that indoor life is much safer for deaf cats, but Toquita began as an outdoor kitten and is comfortable with that. I am extra vigilant since she can not be for herself at times, but I am also aware that she was a feral animal and anything can happen out there. We have only recently began introducing her to indoors, and at first it stressed her out incredibly. Over time she has gotten comfortable coming inside to play or nap for a moment, but she still fights her arch enemy¬†in the mirror every time she enters the room and makes herself dizzy watching the fan blade shadows play tricks across the ceiling. She trusts us completely and because we are slow, patient and loving with her she is learning to cope incredibly fast.¬†I might be a biased first time cat mom, but I do believe she is a baby genius. I am so grateful that the universe worked it’s magic and brought us all together, I truly feel like it is a perfect match and Jibby, Osita, & I are looking forward to all the silly sweet love that Toquita will add to our family. If you have a deaf cat or know anything about them, please send us advice!

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