Thursday, October 31, 2013

Herbsmith Smiling Dog Freeze Dried Dog Treats

Our latest product to review comes from Natural Pet Warehouse. We decided to try Herbsmith Smiling Dog Freeze Dried Dog Treats.

These are sure some pretty fancy treats! The ingredients list consists simply of chicken, apples, and spinach and the treats are completely raw. Now let's see if my dogs are sophisticated enough to enjoy them!

Now as you know Fozzie has made progress in his reactivity, but I still tend to avoid dog-heavy trails with him and make sure that wherever we go, we have some really good treats to distract and reward for calm behavior when we do see another dog. 

And still, I find that some situations--where the dog gets too close before I can get away, or where the other dog has big ears like an Akita or Husky, or where the other dog is reacting too--are too upsetting for Fozzie and he can't settle down even with most treats

So it's a great situation for testing out the value of a new treat. 

And let me tell you, these Herbsmith Freeze-Dried Dog Treats really packed some value for my dogs. Even with other dogs nearby both Fozzie and Lamar took notice when I stuffed these treats in their faces. 

Though both my dogs enjoy treats of all kinds, the zeal with which they went for these treats was unusual. 

There was an eagerness, and attentiveness, and a gleam in their eyes that you just don't see with the usual hot dogs or cheese cubes.

I was surprised! I mean, how delicious can a freeze-dried raw wafer of apple, spinach, and chicken really be?
Pretty delicious, according to my panel of experts.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wellness Wellbites--a new weapon in the war against long nails

Many of you are part of's product review program, where we bloggers get free dog stuff in exchange for our honest reviews. For our last review, we discovered the value of True Chews lils beef bully sticks.

This time we had the pleasure of testing out Wellness Wellbites Turkey & Duck Recipe Soft & Chewy Treats

The ingredient list is impressive, composed as it is of whole animals and vegetables and not processed byproducts thereof. 

These treats have a substantial feel and as the name implies, are soft and chewy. 

This makes them good for older dogs who may have some tooth and gum sensitivity.

Now Lady may not be the best product tester in general, because I don't know if Lady ever met an edible product she didn't devour with enthusiasm.

So to really put these dog snacks to the test, we had to do something that required a high value treat.  Since Lady returned to us once again with long nails, it was a perfect opportunity for us to revisit this challenge with a fresh tool in our toolkit. 

Now I know I've written extensively about the slow, step-by-step process for desensitizing a dog to nail clipping. Lady is one of the most nail-clipper-averse dogs I have ever met, and we worked, when I had her before, on nail clipper desensitization without seeming to make much of a change. I think with a dog like her it would just take time, and patience, and very gradual steps.

But when I got her again she was obviously having trouble walking, and I felt a certain urgency to get those nails clipped. So I just held each paw, clipped each nail, and gave her a treat after each one.

Though not happy about the whole thing, Lady did allow me to do her nails and once she realized she was getting a really good treat after each one, she did seem to endure it a little more readily. 

But this is definitely one of those cases of, in the words of my dearly departed mother, "Do as I say and not as I do." Whenever possible, the slow, steady desensitization is the way to go.

Just to see how the other pups responded to the clippers with the promise of a special treat, I wielded the mighty clippers on Fozzie's and Lamar's paws. Fozzie wasn't having any of it, but was a quivering mass as soon as he saw the clippers. Good thing his nails stay naturally short! Lamar, the moment he saw the bag of new treats, lifted his paws as if to volunteer for a pedicure. He was less forthcoming once he saw what was really involved, but I gave him a handful of Wellbites and called it a day.

Whew, that was stressful! Maybe we'll have to come up with a more pleasant way to review products.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last Swim of the Season

Among the fun activities we got to enjoy the Week of the Swiss was a last visit to my aunt and uncle's pool. 

We thought the experience would feel like home for them, since the times we spend at my aunt and uncle's pool are very similar in some ways to the times we spend in Switzerland with Florian's parents and other Swiss and French relatives and friends

Both my aunt and uncle and the Swiss love to entertain, love to set out vast quantities of delicious food, and love to sit outside talking for hours.

On this occasion, my sister and I agreed that Genghis would stay home so I could take both Lamar and Fozzie. It was so great to have that big man at the pool with us. 

He had a great time too. Making sure everyone's face was clean, 

and spending the rest of his time thoroughly patrolling my aunt's gardens to make sure no squirrels or mice got away with anything. 

In this area, the week the Swiss were here was ridiculously hot for early October. Especially when I remember that a couple of Octobers ago, it was snowing in the mountains. 

So running around and working hard in all my aunt's gardens was hot work. 

Which meant that Fozzie, who is in general a bit of an anxious dog, a bit hesitant about venturing into deep water, 

found himself irresistibly drawn to checking out that cool blue place all the humans seemed to enjoy so much. 

He didn't venture in too far, but enough to cool down those hot paws and gulp a chlorinated mouthful or two. 

I can't blame ya Fozzie, there's really nothing like it on a hot day. 

You just take it at your own pace buddy. No need to do everything in excess, 

like certain Swiss people we know. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Bittersweet Reunion

As you may have gathered from a picture in my last post, Lady came back with us for a short spell. 

She wasn't doing so great with the cats in her adoptive home. Plus, as you may remember, her new home was just down the street from me and whenever she walked past our house, she would pull to come back. So her owners thought they wanted to give her back to me.

As it happened, she returned to us on the last night of having our wonderful Swiss visitors. 

So it was like a little party just for Lady. 

Lady loved meeting all the new dog-loving people, and showering all the dog-loving people she knew before with kisses.

She seemed happy to be back and just lie near me. 

I'm sure it didn't hurt that she was surrounded by food.

She readily found her way onto an orthopedic dog bed and made herself at home, 

just happy to be surrounded by so much welcoming energy. 

Then of course Florian put her in bed with us. 

Lamar was not too happy to see Lady again, as Lamar is just uncomfortable with many dogs and Lady has that bit of Chow edginess that puts him over the edge. So when the owners decided that after all, they wanted to keep trying with Lady, it was bittersweet again.

It's wrenching to think that maybe she's not happy, or maybe she's happier with me. I am trying to let go, and just remember that she is lucky to have a home with people who care for her.

This was tough though and confirms that I'm ready for a break from fostering. Fozzie and Lamar, I'll need some extra lovin'!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Swiss Invasion

Last week, Florian's parents and their good friends came from Switzerland and stayed with us for the week.

Our house is not large, but the guests didn't mind making do with what we have to offer. Plus, they met the only other requirement for guests in our house. They love dogs.

It was really fun having the house filled with not just one but many jovial, friendly, talkative  French-speaking people who love dogs. 

We ate lots of good food and had my sister and my Dad over a few times. 

Everyone enjoyed the company, and the Swiss fondue. 
We also went on some sightseeing ventures. We showed them Sugarloaf Mountain, Frederick, and Harper's Ferry. 

We didn't bring the dogs on that trip, but we got to see lots of other people's dogs as well as some amazing views 

and some gorgeous fall foliage. 

We also ended up going for quite a hike, up the steep stone steps on Sugarloaf Mountain.

Fortunately, the Swiss--at least these Swiss--are hale, hearty, outdoorsy people and were right at home. 

Even though our "mountains" are really just hills and are not even measured in metric units. 

The last night they were here, I made some yummy baked acorn squash that I'd bought at a roadside vendor next to Sugarloaf Mountain, and we had some wild rice, asparagus, and other meaty things we won't even mention here. 

All was enjoyed heartily, and Lamar got to have some of his favorite food--squash skins. So strange that he loves those, but he ate them all!

Au revoir, mes amis! A prochaine annee, au Suisse!