Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Live Long and Prosper Little Mice

I'm in a Star Trek mood, what can I say?

Unfortunately I have some sad news to report.  For the first time in three years we are mouse-less.  Our last little mecer (a Siamese girl named Nick) took her final trip to the vet this morning.  Nick was a great mouse.  We got her and her sister Bean from the NSPCA so they could be friends for a lonely mouse named Squeaks who we adopted from Henderson Animal Care and Control's Shelter.

That's squeaks ^

We don't know how old Squeaks was when we got her, but she lived for 8 happy months at our house.  Nick's sister bean unfortunately got cancer a few months ago and had to be put down.  Since our mice live FOREVER for some reason (normal life span for mice is 1.5 years reportedly) little Nick kept trucking for a long time.  Finally today at the age of almost two and a half she had a large tumor that was effecting her life, so we put her down.

 Nick ^
Bean ^ (She looks like a coffee bean, get it?)

I like our little rodents.  They are in the living room- and while not the most interactive pets they were always up to something.  I would pick them up big bird toys they used as jungle gyms and pulled all apart.  Between that and the constant efforts of two mice to run on the wheel at the same time I got hours of enjoyment from them.  Sadly right now we have a lot going on, plus our two boy rats to keep my rodent fix going so it may be a while before we have such tiny critters running around the house again.  The mouse stuff is getting cleaned up and packed away for now.

I am not all sad though.  As far as mice go ours have lived long and prosperous lives with us, and I am happy to help the homeless mice of Las Vegas in any way I can.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Kerrigan!

  Sometime this week is Kerrigan's 2nd birthday.  Can you believe it?  She has turned out to be such a friendly, obedient, smart, athletic adult dog.  Hard to believe she was once an uncoordinated little puppy who could not even get her feet under her to jump on the couch.  I always have party's on my dog's adoption day because we know exactly when that is- but I thought I would share some of her best puppy pictures to celebrate this week!  Keep in mind this was a challenge because she is just a blur in most of her puppy pictures.

Before we got to more puppy pics I wanted to let you all know I was chosen as a Pets Choice Ambassador on Healthy Paws Blog.  Check out the article here!  It is all about potty training.

Early Puppy Pic
Chilling Out
First Raw Meal
First Vacation (it was cold)
Copley Love
Favorite Toy

Friday, May 24, 2013

Raw food, cooked food, local food, people food!

I decided I have a lot to say about feeding raw food, buying that food locally and the fact that I am not a vegetarian (something that a lot of my friends in animal rescue surely judge me for).  Before I start I just wanted to say if you don't home cook, but you feed a pre-made diet don't feel bad.  Good kibble is a good decision for a lot of people!  Nothing at all wrong with that.  Also don't feel bad if you had a frozen meal made by ConAgra for dinner- I had a box of fruit loops the other day and I really don't feel bad about it.  Likewise don't judge me for having eaten bacon for breakfast this morning, pigs are really cute, and smart but...  I'm just going to stop before I put my foot in my mouth with that one.  If any of these topics make you really angry (or you just don't want to read a giant block of text that is nothing more than my opinion) feel free to pretend this post is just a cute picture of a chihuahua.  Eating a commercial dog treat.  With veggies in it.  Oops.  Even the raw feeders will be against me after this post.

Wow this post needed a lot of disclaimers.  You still feeling good about this?  Blood pressure holding steady.  Great. Lets be on with it.

The reason I moved to a home made raw diet in the first place was actually to help the world at large, not just Copley.  I believe that buying our food from local, small family farmers is the best thing a person can do to make a difference in the world.  I don't mean that you must buy organic (does that word even really mean much?) and spend your whole pay check at a health food store.  In fact I mean the opposite of that.  I mean you should go down to the local farmers market and talk to people who are lovingly growing healthy veggies and then barter with them for a good price on food.  I promise after a few trips the farmers market will be saving you money on your grocery bill (that is if you can find a good market).

I feel the same way about meat.  Factory farms are not good for you, they are not good for the world and they most certainly are not good for the food animals in them.  I would rather be a vegetarian than support feedlot cattle.  Over the last few years I have managed to slowly transition us off commercially raised feed animals.  At this point the humans in the house are eating 100% pastured meat and the dogs are at about 90%.  And when I say pastured I don't mean I buy the grass fed ground beef at Whole Foods.  I buy beef from a local rancher that has heirloom cows.  They are grazed on BLM land in Arizona and finished in pastures in Southern Utah.  Their cows are all born, raised, and slaughtered on the ranch, unlike commercial cattle that often changes hands many times over the course of its short life.  All of the eggs that enter my house come from "pet" chickens and ducks living in people's backyards.  Not one of these animals has its beak cut off so it can live its life crammed into a small cage.  I supplement my beef with occasional Goat- also local, and I can show you the pasture where the herd of goat spends their life.  Then my favorite local meat is the pork we just found.  That's right- after years of not eating pork I found a local farmer who keeps three pigs at a time and makes BACON.  Sweet, sweet bacon.

Many animal rights activists would tell me killing is killing and I am still doing it.  To them I say- well you are right about that.  I have no problem with vegetarians, my Mom is one, and I am worried that in the not too distant future Ben will be one too.  What I believe is the answer is not to stop eating meat, but to strive to move all of our food from large scale farming to small farms down the street.  I also believe if we are eating meat it is our responsibility to make sure the animals we eat are treated ethically.  The point is I am doing what I can, and what I think is best.    I don't want to sound like a saint here- cause I'm not.  I just want to encourage everyone to make a little change that helps the world.  Imagine what a difference would happen in the world if everyone just replaced one meal a week with food bought at the farmers market?  Or if you took one step to buy local, ethical, meat?

Alright- that went there- now back to the dogs!  I know people judge me for feeding raw, and think I am some sort of crazy dog lady.  I will have you know I am a crazy environmentalist, tree huger thank-you-very-much.  With that said the benefits of a home prepared diet are many after seeing the change in my dogs I will NEVER be going back to commercially prepared foods.  Even commercially prepared raw foods- because that would totally defeat the purpose of my home preparing food.  An argument people have against raw is that they can't afford all pastured, or organic meat.  Well who cares?  First of all supermarket meat on sale is still a whole food that is just fine for raw feeding or home cooking.  Also what do you think they are eating now?  Every kibble on the planet (even organic, "all natural" kibble) is made from commercial cattle.  So even if you feed 99% feedlot meat and 1% pastured, local meat you are making a difference, and doing better than commercial foods.

As of right now the dogs are almost totally on local, pastured meat.  I do keep backup canned food for emergencies, and buy a few raw mixes for our pet sitters to feed when we are out of town.  I also get green tripe from commercial cattle, and currently I struggle to find edible bone locally.  For the most part my dogs diet consists of beef from the cows we eat, eggs found locally, local veggies, rabbit that is raised on a small farm and local goat.  A few times a week they do get commercial chicken, and while I hate that the rabbit is really the only other edible bones for the chihuahuas and it is not affordable enough to feed all the time.

I don't want to sound like if you are feeding kibble you are destroying the world.  I fly a few times a year and that pretty much destroys my carbon footprint and I certainly am not going to stop that!  What I am saying is that it does not matter what people say to me- I am sticking to a home-made diet.  For my dogs and for the world.  I just had to get that out there.  

Thanks for listening everyone, and no matter what you feed your dog and your family make an informed decision.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Three is the Perfect Number (For Us)

Right after we got Nova a friend of mine told me three was the magic number of dogs.  At that time I thought three might be a little bit too much for me.  (Actually lets get honest here- this friend has 9 dogs and I thought she was a bit crazy and was freaking out about 3 thinking it would be so many dogs that my life would be ruined).  It turns out she was right.

Last Monday me and Kerri went to agility class and Nova and Copley hung out with each other.  Then on Thursday we went for a drive and took Copley.  We were gone for almost the whole day but I had peace of mind knowing that Nova and Kerri were hanging out, able to play with each other and have fun while we were all gone.

So despite my worries it has turned out that having three dogs is a lot more like having one, and I like that.  I get more one on one time with each of the three than I ever had with Copley and Kerri by themselves.  I can take off with just one dog guilt free, or put two of them away to train one without hearing whining and scratching from a lonely dog.  Also with two chis and Copley I still have less than thirty pounds of dog in the house- so I am sure that helps too.  I am not sure that if I had three mastiffs I would be singing the same tune here.

Nova may not have been a planned adoption, but she has been a welcome one in many ways, and I am starting to really think three is the perfect number.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Went out hiking before work the other day.  Took this picture.  Couldn't be happier that I live where I do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Odds Caught Up With Us

"You mean despite our adorable domed foreheads, giant ears, cunning smarts and conveniently portable size chihuahuas are not perfect?"

According to the Orthapedic Foundation for Animals (commonly known as OFA) 5.7% of chihuahuas in their database have luxating patellas.  Lets consider for a moment that people who spend the time and money to send in their dogs info to OFA tend to be responsible people, trying to better their breed and get rid of these defects.  These people are also probably more likely than the general population to provide proper nutrition and exercise for puppies.  They also (being that a lot of shown dogs are in here) are less likely to have overweight dogs.  I am not saying that all people who participate in the OFA database or responsible but being realistic I think a greater number of them are than the whole rest of the chihuahua breeding population.  Then think about the irresponsible people participating in OFA who don't send in bad results and I think it is fair to say that 5.7% is probably low when it concerns the chi population as a whole. 

Why do I tell you all that?  Well I knew rescuing chihuahuas from the pound (or the street) it was more likely than not that eventually we would end up getting a dog effected by LP.  I am f***ing pissed off that this dog ended up being Nova.  Has not the poor thing been through enough????????????????

Here is the deal.  Nova started skipping when walking and we noticed she was only weight bearing on three legs.  I could see when she was standing on the carpet that three legs were down and her back right one was just pretending to be down.  Of course we called the vet and one thing leads to another and Nova is diagnosed with luxating patellas.  Her weight bearing improved over the week, so maybe it was just aggravated by her knee luxating- that's what we are hoping for.  Her case is hopefully mild enough that on a variety of supplements as directed by our vet (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and a special supplement that helps tendons) she will improve and not have any symptoms.  If that does not work then I guess I muzzle her, throw her in the travel carrier and drag her screaming and kicking to the orthopedic surgeon.  But no one wants that now do we?

A lot of dogs seem to live with grade 1/2 LP and never need surgery.  As long as they stay fit, active, a healthy weight and on joint supplements it seems like things can go pretty easy from here on out.  That's what we are hoping for around here.

Want to learn more about LP?  You can read about it here- http://www.offa.org/pl_overview.html

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nova's Clicker Training Progress

I am beginning to think that no one believes me when I say I have been clicker training Nova.  This is perhaps because she won't even begin to perform when anything out of the ordinary is going on or when anyone else (including Ben) is home.  She needs it to be calm, just us, no kids playing outside and no traffic in the street.  She also does better when talk radio is playing and when she is full.  So for anyone else to witness this miracle (and for Nova it truly is a miracle) I needed to film it.  Oh, I had to hide the camera too- she hates the camera!

So without further delay here is Nova performing for you "sit," "down," "touch," and "high five."  Sit is going well, down she is very good at so I am only clicking for all four elbows/knees down and a moment of stillness, touch we are moving from a lick of the hand to an actual nose touch, and high five- well that one is pretty easy- any paw to palm action gets a click there.

Then of course at the end she got a bit of dehydrated beef something for a job well done.  I have been trying to reinforce the end of training because it was getting a little stressful for her having me get up and move around a lot (something she does not like) and I want this to stay fun, fun, fun.

(If you would rather watch on youtube click here)

Also excuse the radio in the background- for some reason Nova does better with a little SiriusXM Left playing.  What can I say?  I guess she is a democrat like the rest of the family.