Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm Feeling Spine Now

Bourbon has been visiting a local canine chiropractor (Dr. Farr) on a regular basis for the past few months. I swear my dogs receive better health care that I do! Now that he is an old man (turning 8 in a few months) he needs routine adjustments on his back to keep him moving well and to manage his pain. Bourbon has a few disks that are weakened by degeneration due to age. This is a common problem in many large breed dogs, including the Doberman Pinscher.

Got Subluxation?

I noticed that Bourbon was having a problem with his 'normal' activities (normal for him anyways!):
  • he didn't want to get up on the couch or bed
  • he didn't want to go up and down the stairs
  • he wasn't getting on the counters (which is a major indictor for my counter surfing boy!)
Bourbon not getting on the counters is unheard of - he's been doing it for the last 7 years! So obviously something was bothering him, something that I couldn't readily see. So off to the chiro we go.

The bones of the spine and joints are maintained in a specific alignment and when even a subtle change in that alignment occurs, it is called a subluxation. Most subluxations affecting larger dogs are called disk protusions and that is what Bourbon has. He has one major disk protusion in the middle of his spine and then his lower back also gets very tight.

Symptoms are the last thing to show up and the first things to disappear.

Chiropractic treatment of horses and dogs dates back to the early 1900s but was formalized by Sharon Willoughby in 1989. The practice of animal chiropractic is, of course, controversial as is much of the Eastern Medicine, holistic, and homeopathic practices. But many animals show immediate improvement after being adjusted. Bourbon certainly did! He was right back to counter surfing and being a general pain-in-the-ass again after the first visit. But because his problem is chronic, he has to have regular adjustments to maintain normal function of his joints and nervous system.

Besides the regular chiro adjustments, Bourbon has also started taking Dasuquin. Dasuquin contains glucosamine and chondroitin along with their patented avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU). Taken from Dasuquin's website: A potent ingredient demonstrated to protect cartilage which leads to improved joint function, ASU complements the effects of the other two ingredients. Sounds good to me :).

Another option we are considering for Bourbon, is gabapentin. Gabapentin is used in dogs and cats to treat chronic pain, particularly of neuropathic orign, but also chronic arthritic-pain which is where Bourbon would come in. I'm still on the fence about adding a drug to Bourbon's repertoire, but I will continue researching it and watching Bourbon closely for more signs of pain.

For now the chiro adjustments and Dasuquin are keeping him in 'wild-man' shape and he keeps denying he's a day over 3!

I'm never too old to patrol for squirrels!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Treats

I felt bad stuffing my face with all that Thanksgiving wonderfulness and not having any to share with the puppers, so I made them a Thanksgiving-style treat. It's another great recipe from the Doggie Dessert Chef.

The dogs thought these pup-cakes were wonderful!


1 pound ground Turkey, cooked and drained
1/4 cup dried Cranberries
1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 stick Butter, softened
1/2 cup Milk
1 Egg
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder




  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease muffin tins or line with paper cups.
  • In a medium bowl mix whole wheat flour and baking powder then set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix cooked ground turkey, cranberries, pumpkin puree, butter, milk, and egg.
  • Once well combined add the flour mixture and stir until mixed.
  • Batter all mixed and ready for the muffin tins!

  • Spoon cupcake batter into muffin tins until 1/2 full, flatten to fill the cups.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpink inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Muffin tins full and ready for the oven.

  • Cool 5 minutes in pans then remove and place on wire racks to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen pup-cakes.

Dogs waiting patiently for the oven timer...

If you look closely you can see Baron's drool :).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude is the Best Attitude

Vito is excited this year to share what he is thankful for. He is soo excited, he was doing zoomies on the bed this morning, check it out:

Vito's Zoomies Dance

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are concious of our treasures. ~Thorton Wilder

I'd say Vito is fully alive and concious of his treasures, Silly Boy! :)

So without further ado...

Vito's Thankful Thoughts

  1. TENNIS BALLS!!!!!!
  2. Food, all kinds of food, not picky just hungry
  3. Treats, love treats, big treats, yes treats
  4. TENNIS BALLS!!!!!!
  5. Blankets with holes in them, so I can cover myself up and stick my head out
  6. Sticks, yummy yummy sticks, love sticks
  7. Water for swimming
  8. TENNIS BALLS!!!!!!
  9. Bourbon, I love my big brother lots and lots
  10. Oh, yea Mommy and Daddy, they are the bestest, especially when they have tennis balls!!!

He's obviously a deep thinker <more like a cute stinker!>. What are your dogs thankful for this year?

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude. ~ Robert Brault

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Got Blood?

This week Monday visited Iowa Veterinary Specialties (IVS) to take a blood type test to find out if she could be a canine blood donor. IVS supports the Canine Blood Bank of Central Iowa which serves veterinarians throughout Des Moines and the surrounding areas.

Blood. It's in you to give.

Before Monday could take a blood type test, she had to meet the basic standards:
  • In good health
  • 50 pounds or more
  • 2 to 4 years old (can donate until they are 8 years of age)
  • Gentle and calm disposition
Monday meets all those requirements so I scheduled a blood type test and we hiked down to south Des Moines for the procedure.

You're somebody's type.

The universal donor type for dogs is A-, so of course that is what we were hoping Monday's test showed. It usually takes about ten minutes to run the test after the blood draw. Monday was great for her blood draw and a big hit with the staff. Her first type test showed some unusual results. It was mostly showing A+ but had some irregularities, so they did the test again. The next test showed the same thing so it was concluded that she was A+. Bummer.

Who can resist that sweet face?

On our way home, IVS called me and told me that they ran another test using a different batch of test kits. The results were abnormal enough that they weren't satisified with the original ruling of A+. Sure enough, she came back a strong A- on that test with no irregularities. The first batch of tests used was considered bad and thrown away. So YAY, Monday can be considered as a candidate for donation.

The first of the bad tests

Go for a run in another's veins.

If a dog is A-, IVS will then schedule a comprehensive physical examination with their internist and have a full blood panel run. Just to make sure they are as healthy inside as they look on the outside! Monday's physical and blood draw is scheduled for the last week of November. I should know in early December whether or not she'll be able to be a canine blood bank donor.

Donate! It is a bloody good job.

I was told that blood donation is a very safe procedure for canines. Large dogs (over 50 pounds) can readily donate up to 450 ml of blood every 8 to 12 weeks. So Monday would be able to donate about every 2 months for the next 4 years. That's a lot of blood!!

They do two things with the blood once it's collected. Whole blood is primarily utilized and refrigerated. However, some of the blood is spun down to seperate the plasma from the cells. This is then stored in the freezer until required. Those cells are used to treat a variety of blood disorders, like hemophilia, accidental rat poisoning, and hemorrhaging from trauma.

Hopefully Monday will be able to help save lives through donating starting next month! Check out IVS's website for more information:

Blood is that fragile scarlet tree we carry within us. ~ Osbert Sitwell

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dog is My Copilot {book review}

I recently finished a book called Dog is my Copilot: Rescue Tales of Flying Dogs, Second Chances, and the Hero Who Might Live Next Door by Patrick Reagan.

First, I'll just get this out of the way - I LOVED this book. Everyone loves the heartwarming tales of 'down-on-their-luck' dogs getting adopted with happy endings, well this book is all that with a new twist. It was a delightfully easy read and yes I'm pretty sure I teared up more than a few times!


As a decorated helicopter pilot, Sam Taylor flew Search and Rescue missions during the Vietnam War. Today, his rescue work is closer to home - and extremely close to his heart. Taylor is one of roughly 2,000 private pilots who volunteer their time and their planes to fly abused, neglected, and homeless dogs from "high-kill" animal shelters to new "forever" homes across the country.

Dog is My Copilot tells the story of Pilots N Paws, a high-flying animal rescue operation founded "accidently" in 2008 when a private pilot offered to fly a mission of mercy to save an abused dog for a friend. Once on the ground, the pilot asked his friend if there was a big need to transport shelter animals from one part of the country to the another. She responded, "You have no idea." Since that time Pilots N Paws has grown to include thousands of pilots who have transported tens of thousands of "death-row dogs" (and a fair amount of cats and other animals), sometimes more than 1,000 miles away to new homes or no-kill shelters where they have a much higher chance of adoption. The true hear of Dog is My Copilot are the 24 real-life rescue stories collected from pilots and their animal rescue counterparts on the ground. The short, captivating stories are accompanied by over 100 charming, poignant, color photos - most taken by the pilots themselves - of their canine passengers in flight.

My Thoughts

Animal transports are hard to organize and even harder to pull together. Taking it to the air not only cuts down on the number of people needed but also on a lot of the risks. When car transports are laid out, each leg is usually about an hour of drive time each way for the volunteer. So you can imagine how many legs are needed for some of the longer transports! And how many 'hand-offs' are required. At each hand-off you always run the risk of something happening and the dog escaping.  Plus, sometimes you have to arrange overnights and then the transports can span days. Having the option of flying makes even just the thought of arranging a transpor easier :).

I've been following Pilots N Paws since Debi Boies (co-founder) first mentioned it on a Doberman Rescue chat list several years ago. The organization was an amazing idea and the actual follow through and start-up has been impressive to watch. This book is a great testament to the dedicated volunteers that give so freely of their time and resources to help the animals who have no voice of their own.

This books tells it all - the emotional bonds, the love and support of all involved, and of course the true treasures - the dogs and their journeys. Each animal's story is short, well written, and contains inspiring photos of the animals and their heroes. The route maps included on each story opener were my favorite feature. I got wrapped up into each story and couldn't put the book down. When it ended I wanted more :). It really is a 'must read' and showcases how one person really can make a difference.

Also, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Pilots N Paws organization. It always helps to give back so they can keep helping!

The book is available via Amazon and all major book stores.

For More Information

Patrick Reagan's Website
Book Promo on Youtube
Pilots N Paws Organization

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Synchronized Kenneling

To crate or not to crate?

That is a pretty big question for most people. Not so much for me - with five dogs you basically have to crate or seperate in some way when sleeping or leaving the house. I would like to still have a house when I come back or wake up!!

Bourbon gets to relax in the living room, spending much of his time barking at squirrels out the window or snoozing on the couch. He is after all the oldest, so he gets 'privileges.' Monday spends her time baby-gated out of the living room - she gets the whole rest of the main level to move around in. These days (since its cold out!) she spends her time curled up on a dog bed in front of the heater vent. Quite the life, eh? She's the only girl so of course she gets a bit spoiled. :)

Bourbon obviously has such a hard time getting comfortable.

The other three delinquents get to spend time in their crates. They LOVE their crates. I call out the magic word - KENNELS! - and everyone runs for the bedroom. I like to call it synchronized kenneling because they all have a specific course they take to get into the kennels and no one runs into anyone else in the mad dash. Check it out on youtube:

Synchronized Kenneling

Every foster that I bring in also gets crate trained. It keeps everyone safe and gives them a sense of security. When taught properly, the crate becomes a safe and comforting place for your dog. Plus, it helps house train a new foster while they are adjusting to my household routines. That is always a plus (no one likes to clean up messes!).

I do several things to ensure I keep the warm, fuzzy feelings (in regards to the crates) alive and thriving in my crew. First, they get yummy wonderful things in their crate that they don't get anywhere else - food-filled kongs, antlers, butcher bones, food puzzles, etc. Second, they always, ALWAYS, always get a treat for going in their kennel. They love treats. :) Food is a special language (i.e., bribery) that apparently we all talk!

And lastly, I don't use the crate for punishment. NEVER EVER. The crate is supposed to be a safe and happy place. It is the location they sleep in. It is where they go when you're not home. It is their sanctuary. If you use their sanctuary as punishment, then it loses its value. I'm for value-added. It certainly makes much happier dogs :).

Some Good Resources on Crate Training and Relationship Building

Crate Games DVD - Susan Garrett
The Other End of the Leash - Patricia McConnell
Don't Shoot the Dog - Karen Pryor
Culture Clash - Jean Donaldson
PBRC's advice on crate training
APDT's advice on crate training

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Doggie Desserts: Sweet Potato Drops (gluten-free)

As you can imagine with five dogs, I go through LOTS of treats. Mountains of treats. A plethora of treats. It can get expensive and sure I could treat them less, but where is the fun (and the reward) in that?!? So I started to periodically make treats at home. Now I can offer variety (because really, do you want the same snack over and over again multiple times a day every day?) and save money.

There are tons of recipes out there for food and treats for your lovely canines. I subscribe to a pretty awesome and amazing blog of canine treat recipes: Doggie Dessert Chef. I decided to try out her recipe for Sweet Potato and cheese treats (mostly because I have two sweet potatoes and have no idea what to do with them!). Plus these are gluten-free.

The dogs loved them! And since apparently, husbands frown on baking for the dogs and not for spouses, I also made some beer bread. :)


Waiting...mostly patiently


Finally enjoying!

And for good measure - the bread