Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Keepin' it in the Family for Foster Success

Every time I foster a dog, there's a little bit of agony along with all the joy. 

I usually have some time to get to know the adopters, and in the vast majority of cases my foster dogs have gone to what I now know are outstanding homes. 

But still there's the feeling that I'm abandoning them just when they've begun to feel some stability and confidence, and it wrenches me to say goodbye and wonder if they'll be as happy. 

With Sky, it was somehow more wrenching than usual. From that first day when she rode home in my lap, she always wanted to be glued right to me. How could I betray that love?

A solution began to take shape in my mind when Sky and my niece hit it off. 

Once I saw that, I brought Sky over to visit at my sister's house as often as possible

and my niece and I worked together to help my sister see the inevitable. 

Ultimately, we triumphed. My sister fell in love just as completely as everyone else who has come into contact with Sky. She adopted her and her name is now Princess. 

I think I'll call her Sky Princess, which sounds like a sci fi character or a constellation that spans numerous galaxies. 

Fitting for a creature with such an outsized impact.

There will be a lot more scenes like this in our future. 

Congratulations Sky Princess! I am so glad you'll be smothered with love, and that I get to participate in your continued smothering. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Honest Kitchen Catfish Treats from Chewy.com

This month, Chewy.com was kind enough to supply our busy household with not one but TWO free stashes of tasty treats. 

In addition to the outstanding US Hide Natural Rawhide Chips, we chose Beams Pure Iceland Catfish Skin Sticks from the Honest Kitchen. These are made from wild-caught Atlantic catfish, which if you are concerned, as I am, with whether the animals that went into your dog snacks were raised humanely, is an improvement over cows, chickens, and pigs that come from slaughterhouses. 

As every lover of dogs and their diversions knows, there are three basic classes of treats. There are dry biscuits, not much more exciting than kibble but good for a late-nite snack when dogs are still hungry and you don't feel like dishing out more kibble. 

There are training treats, high-value for motivation and in small pieces for rapidity of chowing down. 

And there are long-lasting chews to get your dog through times without you, or get YOU through evenings when your dog would be madly humping your leg if you didn't thrust something in her mouth to keep her occupied. 

And I wasn't sure which of the latter two these catfish skin snacks would be. 

Turns out these sticks are large for training treats and more substantial. 

I also learned that pure catfish skin is rather thick and sturdy, and not amenable to breaking into bite-size pieces.  

No, these treats are best distributed whole so your dog can enjoy their savory, chewy texture and catfish-like flavor. 

The dogs loved them. No surprise, as this is the case with pretty much every single-ingredient snack we've tried and particularly with treats that involve dehydrated fish. 

Another winner from Chewy.com! I would highly recommend these high-value snacks, particularly for picky eaters, conscientious shoppers, and any occasion where a high-value, slightly long-lasting chew is called for. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

U.S. Hide Natural Rawhide Chips from Chewy.com

On mornings when I work at my office in DC, I like to leave my dogs something engaging to chew on. 

Most treats will probably be gone within 30 seconds of my exiting the door, but it eases my mind a bit to know that at least they're engaged during those difficult moments when I have to tear myself away from their precious faces and set off on my long, lonely journey into the city, where I will win provisions for another day. 

Because I am an evil irresponsible dog-hating Neanderthal monster, one of my favorite chews to give my dogs is rawhide. It keeps them busy for a while, and they absolutely love it. 

Of course, according to recent reports it is also bleached, full of toxic chemicals, made in China, and has a high likelihood of making them die a horrible agonizing death at any moment.

So imagine my delight at finding that Chewy.com had on offer a rawhide from grass-fed, U.S. cows that is made in the U.S. with no bleach or formaldehyde!

You better believe I snatched up some of those U.S. Hide Natural Rawhide Chips and gave one to each dog as I left them for a full day at work, with not a care

in the world weighing down my shoulders.

You can bet I felt not a hint of guilt as I saw them take the translucent, wholesome-looking chip gently in their mouths,

then look at it thoughtfully for a moment as they contemplated the freshness they were about to enjoy. 

You might well imagine that there was even a hint of self-satisfaction in my demeanor as I distributed these U.S. made rawhide chews, 

and thought of what a good dog mom I am to provide such healthy, natural treats for my family. 

And you would be correct.

Thanks Chewy.com for making me feel justifiably smug vis a vis the chews I give my dogs. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sky is Coming out of Her Shell

I've had Sky for a week and I was starting to think that she was just a shy, very quiet dog who just wanted to cuddle.

She's happy to go on walks but not urgent about them, and she doesn't pull on the leash but walks right next to me so she's touching my legs. She's tolerant of Fozzie and Dahlia and a little interested in them, but not overly excited or eager to play.  

All she's excited to do is to be right by my side at every moment. If I sit on the couch with my computer, if I get into bed to read, she wants to be as close as possible. When she sleeps with us at night, whenever she wakes up she tries to get closer by putting her head or half her body on my chest. 

I was thinking that she's just a dog who doesn't have much of a play drive, or is so nervous she just needs the reassurance of being touched by her favorite human at all times. But Friday night, there was a thunderstorm and my sister, Uncle Johnny, and my niece were all over so there was a lot of excitement and little Sky must have just gotten swept up. 

Fozzie and Dahlia were as usual attached to each other's throats, and Sky decided it looked like a lot of fun. 

There's the playful pup that was hidden behind that shyness!

I sort of had the feeling this side of her would show itself eventually. 

All along, she's seemed a little overwhelmed by Fozzie and Dahlia's intensity but curious about it, and not put off by it. Much as they wrestle and growl and crash into things every night, she would just watch, and she wouldn't shy away. 

It was good to see her finally engaging with them, especially with Dahlia. Maybe she's still a little nervous about Fozzie.

It is so sweet to watch them interact and see how they all clearly like each other! Sky is so easy to get along with, and my dogs are not--but Sky obviously sees their good hearts shining through all the dysfunction. That's kinda how I feel about them too. 

I've let Sky stay over at my sister's house a couple of nights, as my niece and Sky love each other and I am kind of hoping they all hit it off and she finds her permanent home right there. It is still wrenching to let go of her and not sleep next to her every night. 

But my intention is to try not to keep her, it really is! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Perfect Dog: Meet Sky

This is Sky. 

She is sweet, shy, gentle, and after a day together already glued to me. She was brought in to the shelter with another dog who had parvo, but she never got infected. 

She was terrified in the shelter though, so as soon as she was declared parvo-free the shelter staff matched us up for foster.

I brought her home on Friday, and she sat half on my lap the whole way home. 

It was chilly and rainy outside, and she seemed so happy to be in an enclosed space with the heat on and a person to cuddle up to!

When I got her home she was definitely a bit nervous, but already more relaxed than she'd been in the shelter. Even with my dogs making a racket, she took it all in. Shy but curious. And relieved. 

We cuddled on the couch for a while and she still wanted to be right on my lap. 

Then I let her in the back yard, and she sniffed around a little, then launched into the happiest, most gangly-limbed fast zoomies all around the perimeter, like it was the first time she'd really gotten to stretch those legs in I don't know how long. 

Then she kept me awake all night, sleeping right on top of my shoulder and waking up every now and then to sniff the air. But I don't care. She is the sweetest, easiest little pup I've had in forever. It's been almost a year since we had Keller, another little precious thing I didn't want to let go of, and it was time to try it again and see if Dahlia could be halfway civil. So far, so good!

Think she'll get adopted so fast I won't have time to get attached?

Or is it already too late?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Evanger's Nothing but Natural Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Treats from Chewy.com

When I choose a treat to test drive from Chewy.com's monthly sampling, I always try to select a high-value snack that will be useful for a range of training applications. 

This month, I may have gone a bit too far in the high-value department. 

The freeze-dried, single-ingredient treats seem to go over really well. And why not? It's not like wild dogs, dingoes, wolves, coyotes, and other canids are going to mix up treats made of meat by-products, bone meal, mono-and diglycerides, and high-fructose corn syrup when left to their own devices. 

So I ordered Evanger's Nothing but Natural Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Treats, and thought about what activities we could do to test whether my dogs really loved these snacks. 

I predicted they would, as they really look as advertised--nothing but perfectly training-treat-sized morsels of freeze-dried beef liver.

Should we do some agility and pilates tricks? Or maybe try some reactive dog training?

As it turned out, my dogs saved me some trouble. I came home one day to this scene.

I guess they were pretty good!

I'm kind of bummed I didn't get the chance to watch them enjoy these delicious snacks, but I'm glad they got to enjoy them in my absence. Thanks Chewy.com!