November 30, 2010

Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.

More on High Pressure Processing

Have you ever purchased frozen raw dog food (specifically Nature's Variety and Stella & Chewy's) and wondered why the color is so pale and texture smooth like pâté? Well, I've come to learn that these products do not look like other frozen raw foods. You may remember in a previous post I blogged about other types of raw dog food and high pressure processing or HPP. This type of processing explains (to me) why these brands frozen raw food products are pale-colored with pâté-like textures and when I think about it, they're very unappealing. Not to mention they are the most expensive brands. Click here for photos I took of Nature's Variety. Additional perspectives from those who oppose HPP which balances all the stuff we read on Nature's Variety and Stella & Chewy's websites (scrutinize their marketing of carefully chosen words and safety seals and graphics)...

These excerpts are from an on-line retailer's blog (see Resources below for details):  
  • "HPP is used by industry to extend shelf life...HPP destroys pathogenic bacteria... a concern is the fact that the beneficial bacteria, enzymes and other functional proteins are known to be destroyed during this process...HPP in effect turns raw food into a processed food, and there is potentially trouble down the road for raw pet food manufacturers that choose to proudly market this process, like the two mentioned above, or those that succumb to fear and ignorance (1)."
  • "...the beneficial bacteria found on raw food products, as well as those found in your gastrointestinal tract, are responsible for keeping colonies of pathogenic bacteria from multiplying quickly through competitive inhibition (competing for growth). This leads to my primary concern, which is, once these friendly bacteria are destroyed along with the unfriendly bacteria, there is nothing to keep the pathogenic bacteria from growing out-of-control if the food product is re-contaminated during manufacturing. This is exactly what has happened with several popular brands of kibble dog food recently, as well as over the last several decades, and this re-contamination with pathogenic bacteria, like Salmonella, after the cooking process, without the presence of friendly bacteria, can make people and animals sick (1)."
Excerpts from a frozen raw dog food company on the East Coast:
  • "There have been varying opinions within the pet food industry concerning the process of High Pressure Pasteurization (or Processing), often referred to as HPP. Rather than base our decision on opinions and emotions, the team chose to review scientific data and build our knowledge on the research and conclusive facts about this technology. There are many valuable research papers published in reputable scientific journals regarding this technology. We have taken the opportunity to evaluate this research and outline the most relevant conclusions for the concerned pet owner to review (2)."
  •  "...When dealing with raw meat there is always an inherent risk from microbial contamination which is a natural part of the animal’s physiology. When processing a raw product it is very important to have strict controls in place to minimize this risk. There are several ways to address this. Generally, the food industry has simply recommended a heat (or kill) step to at least 165°F to eliminate the risk of pathogenic bacteria. However, this obviously negates the benefit of a raw diet since this step denatures proteins and active enzymes as well as depletes vitamins. Another, more recently emerging technology that has been employed to address microbial contamination in food is High Pressure Processing or HPP (2)."
  • "...we have chosen to take a different approach to provide a high quality, nutritionally dense, microbially responsible raw food product. First and foremost the best approach to provide a low risk, raw food from pathogenic contamination is by starting with healthy, high quality, properly cared for livestock. Many of the reasons the meat in this country contains the pathogenic bacteria loads it does is directly due to the crowded housing conditions, poor hygiene, improper feeding and handling techniques of livestock animals... we understand the benefits of using livestock that is pasture fed, and never exposed to synthetic hormones and antibiotics. Studies show that healthy, pastured livestock will shed significantly less E. coli. Also, when cows are grass fed there is reduced risk of Salmonella infections. Secondly, butchering and post butcher handling must be closely monitored and controlled to limit contamination (2)."   
Bottom Line: Please read the links below! It will be eye-opening! As a result, I will not be buying frozen raw food from Nature's Variety or Stella & Chewy's anymore (*). There are much better products out there that do not use HPP; that are minimally processed; that look more natural with coarser textures; that offer rational explanations on how and why they make their products the way they do; that are made locally and that are reasonably priced. I can see an awesome post in the near future! I'm confidently piecing together what components or elements are most important to me when I'm selecting frozen raw dog food. Hope you'll keep reading...

(1) High Pressure Processing (HPP): is it Safe for Pet Dog and Cat Food? by Natural Pet Health Blog (of The Pet Health & Nutrition Center)
(2) White Paper:  High Pressure Pasteurization Raw by Answers Pet Food Company. To read the white paper: click on Answers' link, go to Nutrition Ed and scroll down until you find the 6th Q&A (What are the concerns of feeding a raw diet that uses High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP)?)
(*) BTW - Nature's Variety makes excellent dry & wet food and treats (Instinct). Stella & Chewy's freeze-dried patties make hearty treats.

November 29, 2010

"Although we have come to accept commercial foods as being normal or natural ways to feed animals...

(and indeed ourselves), in fact they are not. They are simply what we've gotten used to in the last few decades. But nothing we can produce commercially ever can rival those mysteriously complex foods manufactured for eons by nature itself."

Thought provoking, huh? In the beginning, I blogged Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and explained what I want to accomplish: feed better dog food through my own reading & research. My sister at dogzoomies owns a thoughtfully edited collection of dog books on health, nutrition and holistic care and I hope she blogs about it in the future. A friend at Marley's Adventures recently blogged that she is reading up on dog health and nutrition too. I believe there are many more like us - informed dog owners - who care about our dog's health like we care about our own.

If you haven't already read my post about home-prepared cooked dog food, please take a look! Just wanted to share another perspective, option in the wide world of dog food. Also came across a website by Dr. Andrew Weil (world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine for humans) where he responded to questions about raw and home cooked food for pets (3, 4). I agree and disagree with his answers. Here's what I take away from it: Keep doing what you're doing (reading & researching). Trust your instincts. Pay attention to your dog and his health. Mix it up and don't rely on one method or opinion. Enjoy the links below! 

(1) The Whole(istic) Truth About Pet Food by Christie Keith 
(2) Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (3rd edt) by Richard Pitcairn, DVM
(3) Home Cooking for Pets? by Dr. Andrew Weil
(4) Raw Food Doggie Diet? by Dr. Andrew Weil

November 28, 2010

All we can do is be better prepared today than yesterday and better prepared tomorrow than today.

Pet Food Recall 101 
Are you concerned about pet food recalls? Safe yourself from any confusion and pain...follow these 3 steps to stay informed about recalls.

STEP 1: Get the facts and know the difference between product recalls and withdrawal. "In general, recalls are more serious since regulations are being violated that are put in place to protect consumers, pets, or both. Recalls will result in some action on the part of the FDA if a manufacturer does not act. Market withdrawals do not involve regulatory action and are usually done to remove product with flaws or inconsistencies in appearance and/or performance. (1)"

Recall means a firm's removal or correction of a marketed product that the Food and Drug Administration considers to be in violation of the laws it administers and against which the agency would initiate legal action, e.g., seizure. Recall does not include a market withdrawal or a stock recovery. (2) 

Market Withdrawal means a firm's removal or correction of a distributed product which involves a minor violation that would not be subject to legal action by the Food and Drug Administration or which involves no violation, e.g., normal stock rotation practices, routine equipment adjustments and repairs, etc. (2)

STEP 2: Be prepared and bookmark these websites to track pet food recalls. Having more than one go-to source will give you peace of mind regarding legitimacy and accuracy of the recall alerts.

STEP 3: Build a repertoire with the manager or salesperson at your favorite independent pet food store. Their knowledge of dog food can help you find substitutes if your dog’s foods and treats are involved in a recall. Consider upgrading your dog food brand to a company who has a clean track record.

(1) Pet Food Express - Product Issue Information

November 27, 2010

Thank you Ashley Whippet - The Greatest Frisbee Dog Ever*

Favorite Things >  Ultimate Flyer

Tuffie Toys
8485 Ivory Coast Drive
San Diego CA 92126

We play with the Ultimate Flyer outside and inside the house. 
Yup - actually cleared out the formal living area to make room for playing!
Here are the border collies during a tormenting photo shoot...

Josey poses beautifully with her little yellow Flyer
Lucas has his own camo blue Flyer
Flyers make great hats too!

Enough already - can we play now?!

(1) Ashley Whippet via Wikipedia; (2) Whippet View website honoring Ashley Whippet

November 26, 2010

The winner is the chef who takes the same ingredients as everyone else and produces the best results.

Favorite Things > Freeze-dried or Dehydrated Raw Dog Food

SOJOS by Sojourner Farms
1723 Adams Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

SOJOS Complete (blue bag)
Ingredients: sweet potatoes, USDA turkey, whole egg, broccoli, celery, apples, flax meal, pecans, tricalcium phosphate, pumpkin, cranberries, basil, dried alfalfa, ginger root, dried kelp, zinc sulfate, vitamin E acetate, vitamin D2 Guaranteed Analysis: crude protein 22.0% min., crude fat 8.0% min., crude fiber 5.1% max., moisture 12.3% max. Calories: per cup = 480.8 Kcals Note: This is considered a complete and balanced meal.

SOJOS Grain-Free (green bag)
Ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Broccoli, Celery, Apples, Whole Egg, Flax Meal, Parsley Leaf, Tricalcium Phosphate, Carob Powder, Kelp Powder, Alfalfa, Ginger Root, Garlic, Vitamin D3 Guaranteed Analysis: crude protein 14.7% min., crude fat 6.5% min., crude fiber 15.4% max., moisture 7.0% max. Calories: No information. Note: This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. To use this food daily feeding, you must follow the instructions and add the proper amount of meat.

Bottom Line:  SOJOS' chunky home-style texture, high palatability and price point make it our favorite dehydrated raw food. We prefer it over The Honest Kitchen. The border collies have eaten SOJOS as toppers and meals and there were no tummy issues. The Complete mix includes meat so it is also perfect for traveling (they ate it for Thanksgiving dinner!). Pair the Grain-free mix with SmallBatch or K9 Kraving raw blend (meat, bone and organ) - well, it's so easy to prep & serve! I feel confident about feeding the border collies SOJOS because it suits our variety & rotation method. It's Josey & Lucas approved too!


"Since introducing SOJOS COMPLETE last year (ie. the one with the meat already in the bag), many have wondered what the distinction is between our food and other dehydrated mixes on the market. The most important distinction in our opinion is that SOJOS

Why freeze-dried? Air-drying is a simple, gentle method of moisture removal that works well with fruits and vegetables. However it is not ideal for the dehydration of meat. The reason is that air-dried meat must be cooked first (typically at temperatures of 230 degrees F and up) before it is air-dried to destroy bacteria. However, freeze-dried meat can be dehydrated RAW, which our meat is.

Freeze-drying is a process that completely removes water from a material, while leaving the basic structure and composition of the material intact. This is done without exposing the material to temperatures high enough to destroy enzymes and nutrients. Freeze-drying locks in the taste, smell, and nutritional content of food, while preserving it for a longer period of time. Since most savvy pet owners are looking for raw meat for their pets, freeze-dried meat represents the best option for people that want the convenience of a dry food combined with the bountiful nutrition of raw. We still have SOJOS ORIGINAL and SOJOS GRAIN-FREE for people that want to use fresh, raw meat for their pets. SOJOS COMPLETE simply gives you the added convenience of having the meat already in the bag.

The only disadvantage of freeze-dried meat is the cost, as it usually costs up to three times as much as air-dried meat. In our case, because we manufacture our own food, we're able to include freeze-dried meat in our food and still offer our products at a reasonable price that people can afford. How much do our foods cost to feed? Here's an approximation, based on feeding a 25-50 lb. dog our foods:
  • SOJOS ORIGINAL (with ground beef @ $2.50 per lb.) - $0.95 per day SOJOS GRAIN-FREE (with ground beef) - $2.26 per day
  • COMPLETE is made with freeze-dried RAW turkey.
  • SOJOS COMPLETE - $2.28 per day"

November 24, 2010

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost.

Josey & Sam at Echo Summit, South Lake Tahoe - 2006

They've been talking about it for a few days now -
 freezing temperatures.
Temperatures will drop to the mid and upper 20s overnight.
Thanksgiving morning will be very very very cold. 

Wrapped up a group of pet sits tonight. 
These cats & dogs have been alone for many days now. 
Enduring cold, windy and rainy weather.
Tried my best to make them feel comfortable & calm
while their owners are away. 
D & J will take over to do the same.

Luckily, Josey & Lucas will be joining us on our trip. 
We'll continue to blog, don't worry.
Stay warm everyone!

November 23, 2010

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.

Gratitude: n. the state of being grateful; thankfulness.

Crazy weather today. I mean c-r-a-z-y.  
Woke up this morning to cold, windy, wet conditions. 
By noon it cleared to a sunny mild 57 degrees. 
It was a perfect autumn afternoon.
This evening temperatures will drop in the 30s. Brrr...
Despite Mother Nature, we still went out on our walks 
and off-leash hike to K.H. today. 

I am grateful to my dogs for getting me outside.
Rain or Shine. 
365 days a year.
I may pout about the rain hitting my face.
I may yell at the dogs for chasing rabbits or eating cat shit.
Deep down inside, though, I am as happy as they are.

November 22, 2010

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

Pet Food Updates

Orijen changed formula of their #1 selling dog food
I received an email from an on-line retailer about it and their transition plans to the new Orijen product. Basically Orijen changed the dry food formula to include more meat and more fresh raw meat (less meat meal). They are calling it Orijen 80-20 (as opposed to 70-30). You'll also notice the first 5 ingredients are entirely animal-based. For more information, visit Orijen's FAQ and DogFoodAdvisor's recent blog review (dated 11/20/2010).

New dog food from Acana
Acana is coming out with a new dry dog food called Ranchlands (grain-free red meat formula of free-range beef, bison and lamb). Both Champion Petfoods and Acana's websites do not say anything about it yet. We'll be waiting for more news! We love Acana!

November 21, 2010

Play is the highest form of research.

Josey & Lucas love their toys. 
Pick one! Let's play!
They play tug-of-war with their toys.
 Love watching them pull & drag each other around
while making lots of noise - grunts & growls.

A few old photos...bring it on!

November 20, 2010

Talk less of days to come. Live, love, labor more today.

Lucas made the cover of the Glen Highland Farm 2011 Calendar!
Every day at the farm, he was always watching, listening 
to the rescue BCs in the paddocks.
One particular morning he ran towards the barn and at the gate, 
he barked at the people & BCs.
I had to peel him away from the gate and carry him off.
I remember looking over my shoulder and
Lillie was asking who is that?!
She said Lucas was just really curious at what was going on.
That is still so true today...

November 19, 2010

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Carbohydrate (Part 2)

How to estimate carbohydrate
"Guaranteed analysis" provides information to estimate carbohydrate. "The protein, fat, ash, carbohydrate and water content [accounts] for roughly 100 percent of the total pre-cooking weight of any dog food...Subtract the reported protein, fat, water and ash percentages from the 100 percent total.  And you’ll get a fairly good idea of the carbohydrate content in that dog food (1)."

Estimates of Carbohydrate in select dry grain-free dog foods
  • Acana Pacifica ~ 27% (5), 27-32% (2)
  • Acana Wild Prairie ~ 26% (5), 26-31% (2)
  • Artemis Fresh Mix Maximal ~ 21% (3)
  • California Natural Grain Free Lamb Meal Adult ~ 57% (3)
  • Dogswell Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea ~ 36% (3)
  • EVO Turkey & Chicken  ~ 12-18% (2), ~ 21% (3)
  • Orijen Six Fish ~ 20-24% (2), 30% (3)
  • Solid Gold Barking at the Moon ~ 24% (3)
  • Wellness Core Original ~ 39% (3)

Bottom Line:  Grain-free dry food is working for us and here is what I know for sure: 1) grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free 2) grain-free costs more but because it is nutritionally dense, I feed less of it and 3) the border collies are doing well meaning they have no tummy issues with grain-free formulas. If and when I do use "grains" in a home-prepared meal,  I control the source and typically feed cooked white rice or cooked oats. This flexibility is a mainstay of our variety & rotation diet.

(1) "How to Quickly Calculate the Carbohydrate Content of Any Dog Food" - DogFoodAdvisor
(2) Estimated from information on actual dog food label. First number is % carb (NFE) printed on label and second number is % carb from math formula.
(3) Dog Food Reviews by Brand - DogFoodAdvisor
(4) "Dry Matter Basis - A Better Way to Compare Dog Foods" - DogFoodAdvisor
(5) Pulled % carb from company website
(6) Grain-free Dog Foods - The Dog Food Project
(7) List of dry dog foods (non-grain free and grain-free) - DogAware

November 18, 2010

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

Carbohydrates (Part 1)

Have you read The Whole Dog Journal (October 2010) article "Carbs Contribute the Bulk of Your Dog's Kibble (Even Many Grain-Free Foods) - Do dogs need them? How much is enough? How much is too much? (1)" It explains carbohydrates, role of carbs in dog foods and grain-free dog foods. Grain-free is the new buzz word and how it is being marketed drives me crazy because the messages are often misleading.

My starting point: "Carbohydrates can be either simple or complex. Carbohydrates with a simple molecular structure are quickly assimilated and cause a rapid fluctuation in blood sugar; they are primarily found in fruits and sweeteners. Because complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, they help stabilize blood sugar; thus they help prevent hypoglycemia and diabetes. Complex carbohydrates are found abundantly in vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes. (2)"

I learned more about good and bad carbs from the Glycemic Index website (in the context of human foods): "The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health."

I used this information to look up the GI (3) for certain foods (which we also see in grain-free dog foods): chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sweet potatoes, tapioca and potatoes.

Chickpeas, boiled
GI (vs Glucose) : 36
Serve Size : 150g
Carb per Serve (g) : 30
Sweet potato, boiled
GI (vs Glucose) : 44
Serve Size : 150g
Carb per Serve (g) : 25

Taro, peeled, boiled
GI (vs Glucose) : 54
Serve Size : 150
Carb per Serve (g) : 8

Tapioca, boiled
GI (vs Glucose) : 93
Serve Size : 250g
Carb per Serve (g) : 18

Potato, white without skin, baked
GI (vs Glucose) : 98
Serve Size : 150g
Carb per Serve (g) : 27

Bottom Line: I read in many books and websites that dogs have no nutritional requirements for carbohydrates in their diet. At the same time, some form of carbohydrates are in all types dog foods and dog treats, too! The best thing happening right now is that we have choices! Pet food companies use different types of carbohydrates and we ultimately choose the best carbohydrate source for our dogs. In Part 2, I hope to take a closer look at percentages of carbohydrates in dog food (with help from dogzoomies). I also read there is no magic number for it but just for fun, let's see what is going on out there!

(1)"Carbs Contribute the Bulk of Your Dog's Kibble (Even Many Grain-Free Foods) - Do dogs need them? How much is enough? How much is too much?" The Whole Dog Journal (October 2010)
(2) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating by Rebecca Wood
(3) Glycemic Index - The Glycemic Index Database

November 17, 2010

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

Today another package arrived from Molly, Ben & dogzoomies!

Lucky Lucas and his new Tricky Ball (by Omega Paw)!

Tricky Ball is an awesome treat dispensing toy 
(it is also much quieter than the Buster Cube!)

Thank you dogzoomies!

November 16, 2010

No, snakes are no problem. I'd go to any country, anywhere, any snakes, not a problem.

A big thank you to Molly & dogzoomies!!!!
Lucas received a new toy - Kyjen Invincibles Plush Snake Dog Toy
(after blogging about it a few days ago)!

All mine!
What?! We have to share the new toy?!
Hmm...I'm getting sleepy...
I'm going to take a nap right here,
Do you mind?
Psst...I'm plotting to steal snake from Lucas!
Easy-peasy...look at me with snake!
Ha ha's all mine now!

November 15, 2010

A local company has more accountability.

Customer Review > Robbins Pet Care

Robbins Pet Care
11230 Gold Express Dr., Ste. 310-294
Gold River, CA 95670

Not only is Robbins Pet Care a local company, I like the way they are doing business. Their website says: "The products sold at Robbins Pet Care are made by companies with a deep commitment to providing a healthier, happier life for your pet. All of our products are carefully selected based upon quality of ingredients and materials used and the impact they have on the environment. We strive to offer product choices where they have a positive impact on the environment." 

Because of this criteria, the product selection is not as wide as other on-line retailers. At the same time, Robbins Pet Care has done the work already picking out the best products! They currently have a sale on these items:
  • PetzLife Oral Care Spray
  • Animal Essentials Herbal Multi-Vitamin Powder
  • BioBag Dog Waste Bags
  • Wholesome Hide Large Beef Hide Chips 
Bottom Line: Supporting a local business is important to keep the dollars in the local economy. Robbins Pet Care's distinctive character is their advantage in attracting other like-minded people. They are also have link of Articles on pet health and companionship. It is nice to know they trust The Whole Dog Journal, too, because it is listed under their Other Useful Resources category. This is a different kind of on-line pet store but in a very good positive way!

November 14, 2010

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

One thing I look forward to when I visit my childhood home is reading my sister's Baltimore Dog Magazines. It is a specialty publication released quarterly. Upscale but not pretentious and primarily education-driven. I believe it is changing lives of dogs by giving readers new perspectives & relevant content to become better dog owners.

wish we had something of this caliber here
 There are many articles in the Fall 2010 issue of Baltimore Dog that made quite an impression on me:
  • "Animal Abuse: The Conspiracy of Silence" by Joan Allen
  • "Food for Thought: What's in that bag dog food?" by Scott Sanderson, DVM, CVA
  • "Pet Insurance 10: Are you making the right choice for your dog?" by Lisa Cleary
  • "The Funny Side of Learning Pet Ownership Basics" by Jenna Bobetich
It is also a great resource for folks looking for independent pet stores who stock the best dog foods, treats, supplies and toys. If you have a moment, check out the link above to read this quality magazine dedicated to the well-being of its dog community. Enjoy!

November 13, 2010

Everyone is the age of their heart.

A perfect quote. 
Very fitting (of my time spent with the East Coast set - humans and canines - alike).
Ben & Molly are senior dogs. Josey & Lucas are younger dogs. 
Their energy levels are on opposite poles. 
Fast & slow. Quiet & noisy. Hyper & mellow. 
Pace of life is different with each set yet all deeply enriching to my soul. 
I enjoyed taking care of Ben & Molly - 
going on walks, preparing food, brushing (Molly) 
and interacting/playing in the new backyard.
Both are very vibrant and aging beautifully.
They are my extended canine family! 

The peace & serenity came to a screeching halt when I woke up this morning. 
Josey & Lucas were ready to jump back into the routine pronto. 
I laughed and rolled out of bed. 
Home sweet home! 
Took them to Kitty Hawk for an hour so they could run, run, run 
'til their tongues touched the ground. 
Wish I had the camera to capture their silliness. 
All day long both stayed close to me.

Always love the old and the young!

Speaking of young, I am contemplating fostering one of these BC pups from BCRNC...
Butch Cassidy
The Sundance Kid
These are busy, tough times for rescue organizations 
and animal shelters all over the country. 
If you can open your heart (and wallet), 
please donate money, volunteer your time or foster!
Thank you for your support!

November 12, 2010

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

A plea from Lucas...
come home

I'll be returning home today.
Can't wait to hug pups and give presents!
And of course, the husband gets love & presents too.
I know he was awesome taking care of Josey & Lucas
(but ready for me to take over).

To the East Coast set, I love you and already miss you!
Thank you all for a wonderful trip!

November 11, 2010

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.

Molly is a lucky girl.
She has a big backyard and agility equipment for fun games.
I love this photo of Molly - you feel her joie de vivre and happiness...

Molly, what is more fun frisbee or tunnel?
 If you distract her from away the frisbee and say "tunnel,"  
she'll dash through - spirits soaring!
She is a delight. 
Always wanting to please and play.
I'll miss her company (and Ben too) when I return West tomorrow.

November 10, 2010

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

dogzoomies has a knack for picking out the best interactive toys for Ben & Molly. So after raiding through Molly's toy basket, I decided Lucas who loves toys will need a couple of new ones. Christmas may come early for him!

Kyjen Invincibles Plush Snake Toy (3 squeaker, green)
"The Kygen Invincibles Snake Toy provides your pet with hours of interactive fun. A rattle in the tail offers extra excitement too. And there’s no internal stuffing to make a mess in your home. Specially designed squeakers still operate even after hours of being bitten and tossed around and they will still squeak even when chamber has multiple punctures."

Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball (large, orange)

"Keep your dog entertaining, focused, and nourished with the Omega Paw Tricky Treat ball. Place your pet’s favorite food or treats inside the craters on the tough but soft, pliable textured surface. When your dog plays with the easy-grip Tricky Treat, the food falls out, providing your furry friend with a tasty snack. Easy to fill with treats and keeps your dog mentally and physically stimulated for hours. 5 inches in diameter."

November 9, 2010

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

We roasted a 13 lb. turkey today and Ben watched the whole show. 
Call it a Thanksgiving Dinner trial run complete sweet potatoes & apple pie!

Ben was so happy!
He had unbelievable patience. 
Of course, he was richly rewarded with lots of yummy turkey with his dinner!
Good boy!

November 8, 2010

Food safety involves everybody in the food chain.

Have you seen the movie Food Inc.? It's a must see. I already know where our food comes from - the ugly side of the meat, poultry and corn industries - so I was not grossed out by the movie. The disturbing truth is how inept food safety regulations and food recall systems are in our country. Food safety is not a priority, profit is. There are many strong and reasonable messages in the movie - such as buying local and organic; supporting food safety legistlation; eating less meat; growing home gardens and making the right choices at the grocery check-out line. Our voice and vote to make food safety a top priority happens at the check-out line everyday! There is so much we can do to improve human food safety. 

Take for example...Kevin's Law which was introduced in 2005 but never became law. Kevin's Law would have strengthen the U.S. government's ability to prevent contaminated meat and poultry from entering the food supply by (1, 2):
  • Requiring the USDA to identify the pathogens that threaten human health (e.g. Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes)
  • Requiring the USDA to establish performance standards to reduce the presence of these pathogens in meat and poultry
  • Confirming that the USDA has the authority to enforce its own standards by shutting down plants that continually breach basic health standards. Courts have held that the USDA does not have this authority in the absence of explicit authorizing legislation
Another concern is genetically-modified (GM) foods. The term GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques (3). These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. Did you know that the FDA contends that GM foods are not subject to more stringent labeling?!

Bottom Line: Though all these concerns apply to human foods, they are also, similar if not the same, concerns we have with pet foods, too. With the demand for more human-grade food in pet food, it makes sense to address it, right? The way I see it: learning about pet food also means learning about our own food chain, sources, safety and regulations. Better to feed and eat whole foods (not processed) for people and companion animals. Back to basics!

(1) Kevin's Law - Wikipedia
(3) Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? - Deborah B. Whitman

November 7, 2010

There are some simple truths and the dogs know what they are.

A mid-morning walk with Ben
Being home with family means lots of good cooking! So I've been walking my sister's dogs to stay in shape. Re-visiting my childhood neighborhood on foot brings back many memories - seeing my old friends' houses, remembering where we used to play.

Molly is a powerwalker like me. Ben, on the otherhand, is a stroller and sniffer. The weather has been cold and a little windy so Ben's taking it all in - up in the air and down on the ground. Watching him enjoy the simple pleasure of our walks reminds me to smell the roses too. He's on to something and I just need to listen...

November 6, 2010

To me, if life boils down to one thing, it's movement. To live is to keep moving.

Foster BC updates - Jim, Maddie and Juno

Just thought I'd share updates from the foster border collies that came through Around the Dog Bowl this past summer. Love hearing stories about how they are moving on with their new lives.

Jim (now Zen) at halloween party

After sending Maddie's Forever Home an email, I received this reply:

Thanks for the cute picture and the links. I can imagine Maddie must have loved that toy, she gets her little nose into just about anything she can find to drag around the yard. Dog blankets, shoes, anything that's up on the workbench. You're right, she is quite the jumper! Hopefully the garage is "de-Maddified" now but she always manages to find something. I'll get a Jolly Ball, maybe that will satisfy a itch she has for something to play with.

Maddie is such a sweetie that we've decided to let the girls sleep in the house with us now. We realized part of the reason we didn't do that before was that my other dog, while in the house, kept us on pins and needles wondering when she would snap at one of the others. Maddie and Lucy are such buds that it is very peaceful now and so we bought them big fluffy "inside" beds. It took Maddie only 5 sec to decide she wanted to jump into that bed and snuggle in!

We've had a couple dog socialization days so far. It was a little tense the first time because Maddie would give her lip curl and snapped a few times at some of the dogs. I don't blame her for some of it because we had some pups here that were "in your face" and super rambunctious. It was hard for Maddie to keep them all herded up! But everyone calmed down and the next time we all got together, she was fabulous. If she's not happy or in a crowded situation, she still gives the lip curl but no more snapping so I think she's on the right track.

Juno (now Luna)
I followed up with Juno's Forever Home after two weeks and received this reply:

Luna is doing very well. We walk her a couple of times a day and she goes to the dog park almost every day as well.

At the dog park, she often starts out timid and submissive with her tail tucked, but she relaxes after a bit. Sometimes she plays with other dogs, but it is almost like she forgets how between trips. She’ll chase a ball but usually doesn’t bring it back.

She has crate trained well. It just takes a little treat for her to go in and then she settles right down. When she is very tired, she will go there to rest instead of just laying on the floor, couch, bed.

Luna is working her way into Sally’s heart. Naturally she will never be able to replace the dogs we had, but she is her own dog and lovable in her own way. I went through a similar adjustment many years ago when we got the two dogs who passed away this year. The previous dog was mine and we were very closely bonded. When we got the two girls, I kind of wanted them to be like my previous dog, but of course they were not. After a while I loved them for who they were and not what I wanted them to be. So I understand what Sally is going through. Even though she will never be able to replace the girls we lost, soon Sally will be unable to imagine not having Luna around.

Oh and speaking of puppy rushes, first thing in the morning when Luna is let out of the crate, she explodes out, jumps on our bed and squirms and rolls and kisses. She is so cute and loving.

November 5, 2010

Ever absent, ever near....

...Still I see thee, still I hear;
Yet I cannot reach thee, dear!

The husband emailed me photos of my boy....missing my Lucas!

November 4, 2010

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Customer Review > Evangers

221 Wheeling Road
Wheeling, IL 847-537-0102
(847) 537-0102 

"With 75 years of pet food experience, Evanger's has never been involved in a recall." That is one of the reasons why I like Evangers. Evangers canned products such as the Classics and Game Meats are single proteins so I think they mix well with home-prepared cooked foods.

Evangers Classic Cooked Chicken 
Ingredients: Whole Dressed Chicken, Water sufficient for processing Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein Min 11.0%; Crude Fat Min 5.0%; Crude Fiber Max 1.5%; Moisture Max 78.0% Calories: 410 Kcals/Can

Evangers Game Meats 100% Duck 
Ingredients: Duck, Water sufficient for processing Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein Min 10.0%; Crude Fat Min 5.0%; Crude Fiber Max 1.5%; Moisture Max 78.0%; Calcium Min 0.25%; Phosphorous Max 0.20% Calories: 195 Kcals/Can

Evangers Game Meats 100% Beef 
Ingredients: Beef, Water sufficient for processing Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein Min 10.0%; Crude Fat Min 5.0%; Crude Fiber Max 1.5%; Moisture Max 78.0% Calories: 284 Kcals/Can 

Bottom Line: Tried and true! Prices are affordable, too.

November 3, 2010

I use nothing but the best ingredients. My cookies are always baked fresh. I price cookies so that you cannot make them at home for any less. And I still give cookies away.

Homemade dog treats

Making homemade dog treats are fun. It's an easy, casual introduction to the idea of cooking & baking for your dog. This time of year we crave the aromas of pumpkin pie, cinnamon buns, molasses spiced cookies and maple scones etc. Why not give your dogs the same pleasure?

Tonight, my sister and I baked Pumpkin Drop Cookies for Ben & Molly. The recipe is one of many from You Bake'em Dog Biscuits Cookbook (1). To make these cookies grain-free, we substituted the whole wheat flour with garbanzo bean flour (2).

Pumpkin Drop Cookies
1 1/2 to 2 cups garbanzo bean flour (see note below)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons applesauce (or grated fresh apple)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (note: do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup water
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Note: As needed, add more garbanzo bean flour to achieve  a cookie-dough like consistency.
  • Drop by the spoonful 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are firm. For harder or crunchier cookies, turn oven off and leave cookies inside up to 2 hours or overnight.
  • Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Ben is rewarded for keeping an eye on the cookies as they baked!
Stay Molly - good girl!
Bottom Line: These drop cookies are rustic, made with love and Ben & Molly approved. The recipe is versatile too - use grated fresh carrots in lieu of applesauce or switch the garbanzo bean flour to potato flour. Cookies are crispy outside and soft inside. We put the pumpkin drop cookies back in the oven (which is turned off) to harden all the way through for crunchy goodness. OMG - easy peasey! Enjoy!

(1)You Bake'em Dog Biscuits Cookbook by Janine Adams
(2) Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour

November 2, 2010

I don't like gourmet cooking or "this" cooking or "that" cooking. I like good cooking.

Home-prepared cooked foods for dogs

The case for feeding raw is compelling and folks in the raw food camp think its the only way or the highway. Those against raw give you their sky is falling scare tactic. The same is true about feeding commercial pet foods including the highest quality, most expensive, super premium brands of dry & wet foods. One category that I have yet to discuss in any detail is home-prepared cooked dog food.

Because I feed variety and rotate, I throw in home-prepared cooked or home-made foods for the border collies. Yes, I cook for my dogs! I enjoy shopping, planning, preparing and cooking meals in general so it comes naturally to me. Learning how to cook for canines though is not as easy as it seems - it's more than just table scraps. All the research tells you that you need to know what heck you are doing. 

Armed with books and on-line materials, I'm confident I can improve and increase my knowledge to continue cooking for Josey & Lucas. I'm happy to share my starting list of these resources below. To save people the trouble, there are even companies who sell pre-packaged cooked meals for pets!

Bottom Line: The options for feeding our companion animals have come a very long way. Home-prepared cooked food provides solutions for dogs with special dietary needs, for owners who want to quality-control what they feed, and for owners who are gun shy about feeding raw. Hope you enjoy the resources - it's just the beginning and I plan to explore home-cooked food recipes, too!

(1) The Whole Dog Journal archives an excellent series of articles on home-prepared diets including raw and cooked (April 2007 to September 2007) but they're available to subscribers only. WDJ also sells the same series in e-book format.
(2) Dog Aware - Homemade Diets by Mary Straus
(3) Balance It (select Pet Lovers link)
(4) Natasha's Food for Paws - The Original Freshly Cooked Complete Diet
(5) R.L. Arf - Home Cooked, All Natural Dog Food
(6) Fresh Fetch - Custom Pet Food (Real Meals and The DOGie Bag)
(7) Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM
(8) Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Donald R. Strombeck
(9) Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food by Karen Shaw Becker and Beth Taylor
(10) K9 Kitchen: The Truth Behind the Hype by Monica Segal
(11) Natural Food Recipes for Healthy Dogs by Carol A. Boyle and website

November 1, 2010

Sojourning east a while longer...

Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward you, 
to remain, to,
For I know very well that I belong among you,
inland, and along the Western sea...

Traveling to visit loved ones and
I'll still blog (hopefully!).  
I'm looking forward to being with the East Coast Set...
Lucas with Ben & Molly at GHF (2008)

Hope to spoil Ben & Molly with homemade goodies & lots of walks!