The Break

I’ve immersed myself into many different segments of the dog world and while I’ve learned a positive thing or two along the way what I’ve really learned is that this world isn’t nicer than any other world.

Rescue- There are so many avenues in this category. Rescues judging other rescues for doing things different. People judging rescues for not saving a dog. Even worse people getting mad that a rescue can’t take their 6 year old dog that they have had it’s entire life but they “just don’t have the time for it anymore”. Threats. ” I don’t want to take my dog to the pound, but if you can’t help me I will.”–implying a deaths sentence for their dog. Trainers judging rescues. Trainers judging fosters. Fosters judging fosters. Volunteers becoming territorial of their role when others are just trying to help. It’s just an entire group of judgement. At it’s core it’s supposed to be about the dogs. Saving dogs from unkind humans, and unkind situations they didn’t ask for nor deserve. It’s about humans failing them once, maybe twice, maybe much much more. It’s about a group of humans being selfless and trying to prove that while many people just suck some don’t. Yet, we make rescue about us and not the dogs.

Agility- I don’t really get this world. These people are supposed to be dog people. That being said I would assume that these people would understand simple dog safety issues like retractable leashes are the devil, your dog can’t run up to any dog it pleases, and things like grapes are toxic to dogs (please stop dropping them on the floor and saying “it’s okay… a dog will get it.”….yeah and subsequently end up in the ER fighting for their life. So after almost two years it’s become clear that these people are not really dog people but really just self centered people who must have really loved high school and only care about their clique and the accompanying dog. These people judge you, your dog, how you and your dog perform, how your dog looks and anything else they can attach to in way to belittle someone who wants to have fun with their dog. This sport is supposed to be about having fun with dogs but it’s about egos, placement, and making others feel like an outcast.

Dog Parks- My dog likes to play. Your dog likes to play. That doesn’t mean they will like each other. Too many times I see the story unfold where two dogs just can’t get along at the dog park. Some dogs just don’t like each other and instead of forcing it, why not walk away? Just leave. For the safety of your dog and the other dog…just leave. “Why do I have to leave..it’s their dogs problem!” Well it will be both owner’s problem when a fight breaks out because one dog just could not read body language. But let’s not just blame the dogs here. Dogs give off body language and as such, you should be helping your dog reading their body language, and the other dogs. When your dog is uncertain or about to make a bad decision…step in. Help your dog make the right decision. For every negative interaction with a dog, your dog needs a ton of positive interactions to wash it away. Dog parks are full of ignorant people and listening to people talk about breeding their dog because it’s just so cute is infuriating.

Is this a rant? A negative post? Sure. But what I’ve come to realize is that the dog world lives up to the saying “it’s a dog eat dog world”. No matter the good you do in the community there is always someone there to bring you down. Does this mean I will stop helping dogs, working with my dogs, having fun with dogs, and loving dogs? No! But sometimes it’s worth it to take a step back and just love your own dogs as they are and not try to be part of a human pack . ;D

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Mean people suck

It’s been awhile. I’ve intended to update you about agility and all the things I’ve learned. Sure, I’ve learned more about the games. I’ve learned traditional jack put is next to impossible for me especially when a judge puts a distance 12 weave poles. I’ve learned that i like to go for 51 points (max) in Snooker to avoid having to do weave poles. I’ve learned dif host clubs don’t give you ribbons for completing the each games level but some do it for the entire level only (OMG TORTURE FOR ME THOUGH). I’ve learned a lot about the sport. But what I’ve learned mostly is that mean people suck. 

What have I learned? Well competing in many CPE trials has given me quite a bit of insight. Although this is not a dig at CPE as a venue, it is said to be the nicer of the organizations. The people help each other…it’s the “for fun” organization. I love competing in this venue. I love the games that they have and the way trials run. What I don’t love is injustice, and mean people. 

At this point Woody is my only agility dog. Last year we learned NATIONALS IS GOING TO BE IN OHIO 2018! We have worked our butts off throughout 2017 to earn 48qs and progress into level 4 for all events (including dreadful jackpot. ). #roadtonationals! To give you a sense of Woody I would like you to know that not only does he have 6 other dog siblings in my house, he is older than 4 of them. I foster dogs and have brought numerous dogs in and out of our home without any issue of aggression from Woody. He has been in training for sports, and fun his entire life. He has done countless training classes and also has his  Canine Good Citizen Title. He does not like to be charged in the face by other dogs, which is typical for most all dogs that have learned proper social manners.  He runs in 5ks and many times places in the top 10 if not top 3 (humble brag).  These races are in close quarters with many dogs and he has never had an issue running around near or next to strange dogs.  Woody is a good , non-aggressive dog and to suggest anything else is ridiculous. 

First and foremost, I am considered new to this sport. I have been doing this for about 2 years now and have been learning the ropes for about 2.5. I chose to do CPE over other venues due to the general opinion that the people are nicer and that it considered more fun for the owner and the dog. As I have participated in 5-6 trials in 2016, 11 thus far in 2017, I have begun to understand the sport and the people. I personally wouldn’t be able to state that the people are nicer than people who participate in AKC events because I have not experienced that. No I have not done an AKC trial so sure that’s part of it. But I go to class with AKC competitors and they have been nothing but nice. Other than the 4-6 people I have trained with at my training facility, I had made exactly one friend outside of that group. She is always welcoming new people and she reached out to me on facebook after I made a post about my first experience at a trial.

Sure, I’m not the most outgoing person but I think that’s pretty safe to say about most dog people. Typically, we do have a special bond with other dog people though so in theory it should be easier.  I do much better with dogs as I am an introvert. Most dog people claim this and it makes sense. My first fault is thinking that dog people get dogs. Dogs have bad days. Dogs don’t like dogs running up to their faces. Some dogs handle it some dogs correct it…please don’t let your dog run up to my dog’s face. It’s just not nice. Also, how can you claim to be a dog person and devoted to your dog(s) when you use a retractable leash? I mean COME ON PEOPLE. Anyhow, people are not very eager to make new comers feel welcome unless they train at the same facility as them. There is actually a group of people known as “the mean girls” who consistently make new people feel unwelcomed into this sport.  

Finally, two months ago, a few different people talked to me and complimented how much Woody and I have grown as a team. I didn’t even know they noticed us. For them to go out of their way to acknowledge the amount of time, energy and money I’ve put into this sport put me over the moon. The next few trials they continued to talk to me which was really nice because I didn’t feel like such an outcast despite the constant chatter about anyone and everyone from the “mean girls”.

 Fast forward to this trial—We had finished the first run and I walked over with Woody to ask if my new friends had looked at the next course map for Jackpot (we all know I hate this game) and if they had a strategy. We walked past a dog crate on the right and a dog growled and lunged at us through it’s crate. I continued to walk past this dog and it’s neighboring dog did the same thing. So, I turned around and said I was going to go sit down instead. As I turned to walk away both dogs reacted causing Woody to jump into another dog, who was not on a leash at all. His owner (overreacted) was startled by this and started to yell at me and say that Woody got her dog. I turned around and said I’m sorry and that I was trying to get away from the dogs growling at us. I asked if he was okay and she said yes but he had been nervous so this wouldn’t help. News flash, your dog is always nervous. She made sure her dog had nothing on him and put him in his crate. Woody had no fur in or around his mouth so I was and am certain Woody did not bite this dog. In fact, she claimed Woody “spit” on her dog later on. Not bit…but spit. 

Not until 4 hours later and constant discussion with the “mean girls” did she decide to report Woody after her dog was not performing well. I fully believe that her bad day was being blamed on my dog. She talked about us none stop all day and started to spread rumors implying Woody was an aggressive dog and he actually bit her dog (which is not reflected in the statements, nor was skin broken and thus is legally not a bite.).  She cited one witness. When the witness statement didn’t align with hers the next day she got a friend to come forward and give a statement. This is against the rules but it didn’t much matter. The statement was taken and hopefully won’t be used. 

So what happens after someone accuses you or your dog of anything? You’re done. You’re done for six months regardless if a true incident occurred or not. That doesn’t seem very fair to me. How about you? In AKC there are very clear guidelines to determine what constitutes as an incident but in CPE, it’s basically a death sentence to the work you’ve put in. The rules state that a committee hearing must take place that day with the parties, witness, and committee members. The committee is to determine if an incident occurred. The rulebook does not actually define the word incident but the implied definition is contact with intent, and bites. It specifically mentions that passing dogs on leash does not constitute an incident but that’s only in the newer rulebook which was not present at our hearing. The ironic thing of this all is that the complaining person suggested a warning for Woody. SHE suggested a WARNING for Woody spitting on her dog. When the witness statement didn’t match hers she started amplifying what happened to compensate for the lack of support she thought she would get from a non-bias witness who wrote down what she saw. 

It actually doesn’t matter if the committee determines an incident occurred as the rulebook requires all reports to be sent to them so they can determine if an incident occurred THREE TO SIX MONTHS FROM RECEIPT OF ALL PAPERWORK AND $100 FEE (to be paid by money order and not check unlike annual membership fees). THREE TO SIX MONTHS? That’s just for them to review the incident….So you’re done for 3-6 months and can be found “innocent”. On top of that, if it is determined that it was an accident and not aggression you will have a minimum suspension of 6 months. Seems fair right? What this says to me is that I can not like your or your dog and just report you as attacking me or my dog…with spit to get you suspended for six months. I don’t actually have to have a witness and it’s not really even guilty until proven innocent. It’s you’re guilty because someone said it.  This also doesn’t stop people from talking more and more about you and your dog It doesn’t stop people from changing their story when the witness statement doesn’t agree with your “(sob)story”.  A committee hearing can’t stop you from being reported and it also can’t stop MEAN. 

The key points to me  are per the rules there was no incident because the witness testified that there was actually no bite or attack what so ever despite there being no definition of what constitutes as an incident. It was 2 statements vs 1. A dog reacting to another dog is not an incident per my understanding of the limited information in the rulebook, so it was inconceivable that the committee would rule against me. I feel the only reason they did, and they stated, was that they felt they had no other choice, which seems to be wrong.  I understand that regardless, they would need to submit this paperwork but I don’t believe that they were able to factually determine that an incident occurred per the rules. 

Despite the lack of acceptance since my introduction to the sport I have moved up in the levels and had one goal with my 9 year old pup to attend Nationals. I was very excited to hear that it would be in Ohio in 2018 because I knew we could do it. 9 isn’t the youngest of the bunch and to have started this sport so late in his life I knew we wouldn’t have many opportunities to achieve this. Anyone who has even sat next to me knows that I have been talking about the road to nationals the entire year. At the beginning of 2017 We were Still in Level 2 for Standard, and Strategy (2 qs in level 2 for 2016). We were in level 3 for Handler and Fun (3q in 2016 for level 3). We had a long way to go to not only get into level 4 but also 48 Qs. We worked hard and started doing training at an additional facility to work our weaves and distance and after $960, and 9 trials we achieved our 48Qs and Level 4 status. At this point I have spent $1,200 this year alone to achieve our 48 and practice for Nationals. This does not include the amount of money spent in training. I have poured my heart, soul, time, energy and money into this journey and for one person to single handled ruin this for us is devastating.

The irony of that day is that there was a new person at the trial that day that I went out of my way to help and hang out with so she felt included. Did she need me? Maybe not, but I had done a class or two with her and knew that people would judge her beautiful pitbull( mix?) because she doesn’t love little dogs. What does she love? She loves doing agility and her mom was sure that she could keep all the dogs safe at a trial after practicing for a year or so. But that does not stop people from seeing an “aggressive” pitbull the second she steps out of the car. Is this dog aggressive? No. Does this dog have prey drive? yes. Is the owner capable of handing her dog? Yes. But no one cares about that…especially when it’s a pitbull. Not only that it’s someone NEW to talk about and gossip about. 

 

Now normally you will see my sleeping with my dog when we are not competing. Why?

  • 1. I love to sleep.
  • 2.I don’t really have many friends there to pass the time with.
  • 3. Woody doesn’t like to be left in his cage alone so I stay with him.

But I didn’t take my nap that day despite going to bed at midnight the night before and getting up at 530AM to walk my other dogs I was leaving alone for the day. Why? Because I wanted to be that one person for this new comer. I wanted to make sure she felt comfortable. I just made new friends and it felt good to feel a bit more welcomed and I wanted to pay it forward as they say. I’m not saying this was a charity case. I like this person and this dog. She had other friends there too but I just wanted to help if she wanted it. We weren’t friends but I knew she was a good dog owner and I wish I had someone at my first trial helping me along. I don’t think there are many people like that at the trials I go to and I want to represent the mission of the venue as best I can. 

So what’s next? Who knows. I have a long time to wait despite my lack of trying to expedite this process so that Woody can go to Nationals. I don’t see this happening and I don’t want to get my hopes up. Quite honestly if I am your friend on facebook from agility don’t be surprised if I unfriend you because I break down when I see these posts that I should be in. Woody continues to go to agility class and continues to get better. We talk daily about spitting and he assures me that he does not know how to spit. We go to off leash parks and play fetch and swim and he’s a happy pup who doesn’t know how cruel and petty people can be. 

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Although a long story, many people have asked me the details. This message was sent to CPE (not in it’s entirety because relevance to the exact situation was not there) and is not an attempt to call them out. Am I frustrated with the organization? Sure. Who wouldn’t be when you’ve put so much time,energy and money into something only to be devastated because someone was having a bad day? Do I believe in their mission and intent of the venue? Absolutely. I’ve been around a lot of dog things and have seen first hand how mean and judgmental people are. Do I think CPE is a nicer more fun venue than others? I can’t be sure as I haven’t been to other venues, but what I do know is that there are the same types of people at CPE as they tried to avoid at AKC and other venues. The mission and intent of the venue does not mirror what the members of this venue do. My suggestion: Buyer beware– there are mean people everywhere. It’s not just about the love of dogs and the sport. I would love to be as optimistic as my prior posts and all the wonderful things I thought about COMPETING in the venue over the past two years but really when I look at the big picture, it’s no different than high school. There are cliques and when you’re new you really are an outsider unless you’re lucky enough that one person tries to help you. 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Dear :

You know, I struggled on how to address this “letter” because I don’t think you really deserve a salutation. I have to acknowledge you as something and it’s hard to come up with the right word that can encompass who you really are.  Quite frankly, I’ve never liked you. So, if I had to describe you it would be hard to say anything nice. Your kids are nice? And I PRAY they end up nothing like you. So what are you? You’re a loser, scum, dirt bag, simply the worst.

You see, I work in rescue, and I love dogs. I treat them as equals. I do not look at them as disposable objects, accessories, or beneath me. They have hearts, brains, lungs….they breathe, they feel, they think. They love…unconditionally. I am not better than them and my life is not more important than their life. Every day I see someone “rehoming” their dog. “We don’t have time.” “The dog has anxiety.” “The dog has too much energy.” “I’m moving.” Most excuses are despicable and they make me beyond angry—“we need to rehome our dog because we are renovating our home”. I’m sorry? What? “I am having a baby and we can’t have a dog.” Oh I get it. So the dog was just a substitute until you could “have the real thing”. They didn’t’ just give you years of their life or anything. They are disposable you’re right. Just like those shoes that you only wore three times but they aren’t in style anymore. One that really gets me is when they blame the “problems” they have with the dog on the fact that it’s a “rescue”. ALL DOGS HAVE PROBLEMS. ALL DOGS ARE INDIVIDUALS. A BREEDER DOG CAN HAVE ANXIETY. A BREEDER DOG CAN HAVE LEASH REACTIVITY. A BREEDER DOG CAN RESOURCE GUARD. But you know, people feel better giving up on a “rescue” because they were OBVIOUSLY broken to begin with…so they tried. -_-.

However, I am a reasonable person. I understand that life does happen. Sometimes you are forced to move and you cannot afford to care for this living, breathing animal that you promised to love and care for their entire life.  I know circumstances like that exist. I understand that you can’t risk an incident with your child. Although I most certainly don’t agree with many of the reasons I am open to hearing them because, well, what kind of life would the dog live in a home that doesn’t want them? But for the love of god, I do not understand issuing a dog a death sentence (AKA the pound) because at 13 years old “she scratched too much.”

Isn’t that what you said to me? Oh no, I forgot. When I asked where Zoey had been you said “who? Oh that dog? She’s dead”. Point blank “she’s dead”. Now the way you phrased that most certainly confused me. There was no sense of compassion. It was just cold. I mean I know you couldn’t have cared less for Zoey, but “That dog? She’s dead.” Is just a very odd statement to make. Sensing my confusion and shock you tried to correct yourself but you really just dug a deeper hole showing that even when you think a person couldn’t be worse, they can. “I mean, we took her to Franklin County. She wouldn’t stop scratching. She was dying I guess.” That wasn’t enough you continued. “ I mean they said they could find her a home but she was a pretty terrible dog. She had to wear that cone because she scratched so much. If we took it off she would just eat her tail and butt….she was dying.” Trying to collect myself and answer calmly I mention “Yeah I remember she had that cone on. So she didn’t get better? When was that?” “Oh we took her in probably November or December. She wouldn’t stop scratching. We tried everything.” (I would like to say that an oatmeal bath here and there, and a cone is most certainly not “everything”.) “So yeah, we took her she was terrible so she’s probably dead now. I mean she couldn’t be around kids or other dogs.” At this point I was most certainly confused, livid and all sorts of other things. You have three kids, and another dog. Zoey also got along with my four dogs without issue so that seemed odd to me. “But she was fine at your house with your dog and kids?” “Yeah after like a year. She was awful and you know she shed and my wife is allergic to dogs. We shouldn’t have had her in the first place so it’s for the best. She was dying anyways.”

I know this is addressed to Zoey’s “owner” but for anyone else reading this let me tell you about Zoey. Zoey was a Jack Russell Terrier. She was inherited about 2 years prior when his wife’s mother died. Given Zoey’s age (13) it seemed that she was pretty well taken care of for a 10-11 year old dog. Zoey LOVED to be outside. She enjoyed being a Jack Russell. She loved to chase squirrels and just run around in the yard. In fact she loved it so much that her “owners” left her out for hours on end whether it was below freezing, or 90+ degrees. On multiple occasions I went over to ensure she had water and/or to ask them to bring her in for her safety. They would get annoyed because she would ask to go in then right back out…like most every dog who has a beautiful fenced in back yard. Zoey started to develop a skin condition and began scratching like crazy. They gave her some baths and threw a hard cone on her for months. Assuming that a cone could stop the itch, they kept it on her at all times even when she would play in the yard. The only time they took it off was to feed her. However “we couldn’t feed her because every time we took the cone off all she wanted to do was eat herself because she was dying.” I prefer to call that “relief”. She finally was able to try and make herself feel a tiny bit better for ten minutes a day. Zoey did eat, she had a yard, they let her out, and in some cases this is all we can ask from people. But Zoey deserved more just like all dogs in her situation or even worse situations. Zoey and many dogs like Zoey wasn’t loved after her real owner died. Zoey went two years being neglected of love and we all know dog’s lives are way too short to not know love day in and day out.

So in case you were wondering, Zoey was not “dying”. Zoey had a treatable condition—sarcoptic mange. Let me tell you that this condition is uncomfortable, painful and really bad. It’s treatable and will go away. Zoey had moist dermatitis on her ears which is very uncomfortable but again controllable. You want to know what else Zoey had? She had healthy clear ears, a strong heart, and good clean lungs. She didn’t have muscle, neck, head, or spine issues. She was just getting older with immature cataracts. She needed her teeth cleaned and to be cared for like a senior. Zoey was healthy, but given her age, pain from untreated skin issues and the awful things you had to say about her there would be no way for her to make the adoption floor.  

You failed her but I know you don’t care. You gave Zoey a death sentence. Her number: 98834. This is what you reduced her to— A number on a list to be killed. You dropped her off at a shelter to be killed alone without anyone she knew. And you couldn’t have cared less. In fact, you felt like she deserved to be killed. Lucky for Zoey there are animal rescuers.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are people in this world that can see an older dog as “good as dead” and there are people that actually see the dog for who they are. A living being that deserves to live every day to the fullest. They see the age but they see the heart and desire to live. They see the strength and the love. These people deserve the unconditional love of a dog. People like you don’t—but dogs love unconditionally, unfortunately. Zoey was probably confused. She was probably scared too. But she’s safe, alive, and happy all because you threw her away and a rescue group saved her. Her bio read:

Zoey (affectionately renamed Sophia Petrillo from the Golden Girls by her foster mom), may be a 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier but she is quite active. She loves going on walks and doing what dogs half her age do.
“She’s dying” seems a little off doesn’t it? She loves walks. I knew she would. You probably didn’t know that though because in the two years you had her you never even bothered to walk her. You just let her sit outside for hours on end alone. Sometimes you let her hit her face on the fence for so long that it would bleed. She likes to go on walks and be with her people, just so you know.

Her owner passed away and the family left her at the county pound. Colony Cats (&dogs).
You must have not told them that you kept her for two years. You kept her from a home that would take care of her and love her for two years. What a way to honor your dead mother-in-laws memory. Abandoning her dog, and sending her to her own death far too soon.

Zoey does well with a variety of people, other dogs and isn’t a cat chaser either.
What was that about not liking people, kids, or other dogs? Just wondering.

At dinner time Zoey twirls around in excited anticipation for her meal.
She twirls. She is happy. She can eat without scratching again. Imagine that.

She has wonderful manners and is such a sweet dog.
Are we talking about the same dog you threw out? “She was terrible.” “she was dying.” “she was just a bad dog.” No. You are just a bad person.

Zoey has been adopted. She has a loving home far better than yours. You didn’t deserve to have her or any other dog for that matter. I wish I could express the amount of hatred I have for you and people like you. But, I choose to put that energy into rescue. I help rescue dogs from people like you.

I hate you for taking two years away from her. I hate you for letting her body go through pain when all you needed to do was take her to the damn vet. I hate you for taking her to a place she would be put to death. You are part of the reason that our shelters are full with dogs just waiting to die. 

Thank you for finally allowing Zoey to have the life she deserves. A death sentence was far better than living another day with you. 

Sincerely,

Margot

So you’re getting a dog….

I’ll admit it. I am not a great foster. I get attached, I can’t let them go, and I cry for days. That being said, I am an excellent resource of knowledge when doing home visits for adopters! I have bought just about everything out there. I have gone to many vets, done research on illnesses, and because of my current foster, I am up to date on how to potty train a dog! I am by no means an expert, but I know a thing or two about different toys, crates, bowls, food, leashes, harnesses etc etc. All these things added up cost you a lot of money, and you never know what you really need and if you’re getting a good deal. So I’ve decided to create a quick guide on what I would have if I am getting a puppy or a dog! I have texted this information to so many different adopters that I am basically a broken record and could recite the items that I value in my sleep. I mostly buy everything on Amazon and watch the prices! 

I haven’t even gotten to the list yet and I must detour to car safety. I am a huge proponent for car safety with dogs. I cringe when I see little yorkies on people’s lap in the driver seat with it’s head out the window. What happens if you get into an accident. Best case little yorkie stays in the car and not out the window, but then you have to deal with the fact that you smashed the poor thing between you and the steering wheel. Even better,  the little dog may have fallen under your feet and you have to avoid stepping on the poor dog. Okay, so you don’t have a tiny yorkie. Next area of concern is the gear shifter. Have you ever accidently switch into neutral? That’s never fun. Dogs that crawl over you when you drive are a hazard and you are not only putting yourself at risk, but also the dog with free range. It’s literally not worth it. A dog that gets free range can cause an accident especially if you are focusing on getting the dog off of you, and not paying attention to the road. “My dog doesn’t like the back seat.” “ My dog doesn’t like to be restricted.” You know what your dog DOES likes though? Living.  I know, I seem to be over reacting, but how many stories have you read where an accident happens and the dog takes off because it wasn’t  “buckled in”? The dogs are afraid and then just take off in an unknown area and typically on busy roads.  So car safety. It’s my favorite thing to talk about. Now I know nothing is 100% but I would rather try to protect my dog than not.

This rant, leads me to item number 1. Kurgo- crash test harness (note the metal buckles, not the plastic ones (not crash test rated) ). Now there are many brands, many reviews, my only concern here is that we at least try to limit the mobility of the dog in the car. This is the brand I use and love. It fits my dogs well, the customer service is great, and it’s very easy to use. Some people find that it rubs odd on their dog, and that is fine, research another crash test rated harness car seat! The best thing about a harness car seat is that you can just clip a leash on and go once you get out of the car. My small dogs still manage to stick their head out of the window and seem comfortable with it.  As a side note I did have one dog chew through it once. He was used to sitting on the drivers lap which again is a huge pet peeve of mine. We then worked with his general car anxiety and only put him in it up front for a bit so we could watch him, and then moved him to the back with the passenger watching him and stopping him from chewing. We would take him on short rides to get used to being clipped in. Now, he can go on long car rides and destroys nothing. It’s wonderful. He also doesn’t seem to anxiety whine anymore.14907663_886545261141_4266429651028107529_n

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Leashes! So many leash options.  Personally, I have two types of leashes. One for harnesses, and quick use, and one that I use on 5/6 of my dogs for daily walks. So my on hand traditional leash is always a 4-5 foot leather leash(6 ft for running). Why? Because they feel nice in my hand, and they last forever. They also never get dirty and they don’t burn you if your dog wraps you up. Side note, if I ever see anyone using a retractable leash, I let them know how dangerous they really are and that my friend’s dog was killed due to the use of a retractable leash. Not only are they dangerous but your dog does not need that much space from you. If you’re hell bent on letting them explore slow down with them or speed up. Get a six foot leash, do something better than putting everyone around you, your dog and yourself in danger.

So, other than a leather leash, I use a harness lead. This is literally the best thing to happen to me. It is essentially a long rope that goes over the neck around the body and up through a loop to create a harness. Why is it so great? It eliminates neck pressure on your dog if walking In a martingale. Also, it fits to your dog as they grow, or if they are just weird looking that day or wearing a coat etc etc. It’s adjustable and it makes life super easy. It hasn’t eliminated pulling in my worst walker, but it’s better than him pulling on his neck. 15032045_892063048451_1870953736500939934_n

Another side note—do NOT walk a dog in a flat collar. Flat collars tend to be lose and if your dog gets frightened it can back right out of the collar. If you insist on walking your dog with a collar get a martingale collar. However, these cannot be left on when unsupervised like a normal house collar. If they get caught on something it would be very difficult for them to get uncaught. All my dogs have a flat collar and they wear them but I don’t attach a leash to them. They also don’t wear them in the house  unsupervised typically because I don’t want them getting caught on anything. You may think that is a bit of a stretch but when you wake up to your dog stock on the door stop by the loop in his collar you think twice about leaving them on inside!

Crates! I used to think, why have two doors? How annoying. Then I wanted to turn my crates a different direction but the door was not accessible. I realized why two doors! I have this one, and I really like the quality of it but most all brands are fine in my opinion. If you are looking for a single door crate, I like precision pet because the door actually requires you to lift up to lock and unlock it creating a bit of a barrier if your dog escapes from crates. 

Another side note—People think crating is mean and it really isn’t. My dogs love their crates. They choose to lay in them all the time even with people home. Crates are like dens for them. It’s their space. No one else comes in that space and it’s safe. And believe me, with my nanny cams, they literally do nothing all day but sleep. So, sleeping is sleeping and a crate is fine. Additionally, it keeps them safe from things you may have forgot to put away or something they just recently discovered. In case of a fire or emergency, your dog is safely in one place and can be caught and moved easily as well. Crates should be used while you are gone but also when you’re home. It’s important for them to not associate the crate with you leaving them behind. It’s pretty simple and they may cry for a week when you do this but it helps long term. When you are watching TV or in the living room, put them in their crate. 20-30 minutes. Do not let them out until they calm down and act like it’s no big deal. It helps to ignore their cries, and not to make direct eye contact. Obviously if the dog is hurting itself you’ll need to work slower with them. (IE starting with the cage door open them in it and you sitting by it. Petting and giving treats. Slowly moving to closing the door and offering treats etc etc). However, I haven’t had too much trouble with getting a dog to hang out in the cage while we eat in the same room. You can work up to putting them in there for 20 or so minutes while you’re home but in a different room. It just really is useful when your dog has a good relationship with the crate. It’s not punishment, it’s “ I want you here for now and that’s just okay.”. And when they do need a time out, it’s not “bad dog” and thrown in the cage, it’s “alright you need a break and need to calm down in your space”. The only time I have ever used the cage “negatively” is when it’s a dog safety issue and I am literally trying to keep dogs separate for safety.

Food! I would research the food you feed your dog. I have tried many different brands and varieties and I literally have four different dog foods in my house for different dogs. Find what works and stick with it! I would caution people to really read the bag and nutritional facts. Some foods may be cheaper or appear good but if you spent a little more money on a food you could potentially feed half as much and thus it ends up being cheaper to feed a higher quality food.  The more protein, the less you feed. However, your dog needs to agree with the food so it may take a few shots. Most pet stores are good about allowing you a return if your dog does not agree with a food—or you can donate it to a rescue!

Bowls in my house are interesting. We don’t have any dog in our house eating out of a normal dog bowl. When dogs eat fast, they can choke, and then they puke and then they try to eat said puke. You waste food and it’s not fun! Eating fast, and excising after eating can also cause bloat (mostly in big dogs with deep chests) so it’s important to ensure that your dog is not eating too fast and running around after dinner. If you are able to use a regular bowl, I suggest stainless steel over plastic. Plastic can grow bacteria very easily. We wash all of our bowls weekly because most of ours are plastic slow feeders. One of our dogs eats out of a cupcake container and that works for him!  I love slow feeders, because my dogs don’t inhale their food and they don’t puke! Slow feeders are essentially a maze or a puzzle for the dogs that has their food in it. The other benefit is that eating becomes a mental exercise as well and mental stimulation also helps to eliminate energy in a dog. So even if you aren’t feeding dinner, you can use the feeder as a way to make them work mentally and get some energy out! You can get a few different kinds but my favorite is the grass. Some are harder levels than others. There are also ball slow feeders, but I would prefer this for a snack rather than dinner because your dog will typically miss a few pieces and you don’t want dog food all over the place.

With six dogs, toys are everywhere in my house. We do not typically use edible toys unless every dog has one and we take it away when that toy time is over. I like Nylabones, Kongs(stuffed with peanut butter and used as a special treat typically in crate), Deer/elk antlers, horns, ropes (although we do not play tug in our house), and Red Barn white bones. I don’t like stuffed animals because my dogs destroy them and it’s hard to teach them to differentiate between the stuffed animal they can eat and one that they can’t. Himalayan Chews are increasingly popular but are edible and thus only used during crate times.  We also play fetch with a few of the dogs and my favorite ball is the glow ball.   

Harness, collar, leashes, crates, food, bowls, and toys—all very necessary when adopting a puppy or a dog. My last item that I deem basically necessary is a Glowdoggie. I LOVE this company and this product. They may be a higher priced item, but the batteries are typically AAA and thus very inexpensive to replace unlike some other cheaper collars. I can see my dogs  in the yard when it’s dark, and on walks they wear the embarrassing glow item not me! They last forever and are literally the best thing ever when it’s cold and you don’t want to go out with them in the yard. I prefer blue and green. I also own red which is just a little dimmer than the blue and green.  

Of course there are so many other things but I think this list encompasses the first day needs(okay maybe not a Glowdoggie, but seriously the best thing).

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Agility Update!

So, I have done probably 6 trials now. My last one was in October and Ben had a panic attack and Woody found a snake on the course. Needless to say, we took a month break from agility, and just started back up going to practice. I’ll get into Ben’s panic attack another time but below is my understanding of the rest of the games I left out. I didn’t pay member dues this year (because I didn’t know) so I have to wait until December to get my official status of where I am in regards to levels, but some games we are level 3 and some we are level 2. AND Ben has level 1 jumpers still…. hahaha. 

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Handling:

Colors-Well this was easier than I thought. Basically there are two standard courses set up that overlap one another.There are typically 8-12 obstacles on both courses. You must choose one course or the other. Sometimes, obstacle 1 could be obstacle 1 on both colors, or obstacle 2 could be the same and you may have to take the obstacle from a different direction. Sometimes you may think you’re going to do the blue course but then your dog takes the red course and you must adjust. It’s a pretty simple game to understand! 

Wildcard: This course looks like a standard course, but at three different spots you will have to choose obstacle A or B. In level 1-2 you will choose two A obstacles and one B, and in the higher levels you will choose 2 B and 1 A. So, again, you can correct yourself a little if your dog chooses an A or B when you didn’t want them to! 

 

Strategy:

Jackpot: This one is confusing to me because most of the time they do what they call a “non-traditional” jackpot. Meaning, it doesn’t exactly follow the standard rules. I THINK the standard rules are something like this: 

You do whatever you want for the first part of the game. You collect points like full house and you need a min number of points based on level. THEN a buzzer goes off and you are to do the “gamble”. The gamble is typically 3-4 obstacles that your dog must complete but the catch is you can’t cross a certain line (they put tape down). So essentially your dog must be good at distance. You must complete the gamble with no faults and end on the table to Q. So, I’m glad most of the time it is a non-traditional jackpot. 

In non-traditional jackpots they can kind of do whatever they want. The courses I have seen is that during the opening time, you could complete the gamble and it may not require distance. IDK how that’s allowed but I like that. Then the buzzer rings and you still have that “gamble” time to collect extra points or something. IDK I just wait for my score haha. Some how it works out and the score you!13668981_863324830071_2221575898163967957_n.jpg

 

 

Foster Update

Hi! 

Well, I have been MIA. We still have Buster aka-Bussy. He isn’t going anywhere and I love him. But in the mean time we had a successful two other fosters come and go! 

Bert: Jack/Basset mix 7 months old. Bert was great. Super cute, but Woody hated him. He was with us about a week and Woody just couldn’t deal. For safety reasons, Bert got a new foster and has been adopted!
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Tucker: Basenji Mix , 7 months old. Well we were going to take a break because it was pretty obvious Bussy wasn’t going anywhere but when a Basenji winds up in your reach, you just need to take it. Tucker had a foster home prior to me that said some pretty nasty things about him. It wasn’t that he was mean or awful, just he was a 7 month old PUPPY. Given that he was part Basenji and well I have Ben the rescue thought we should give him a go to see if he really is all that he was said to be. Tucks was great, but he was a puppy! He has lots of energy and wanted to constantly play. He is a very good dog eager to learn. But man is 7 sometimes a lot! Tucker found his home about two weeks after we had him and they love him so much. This was my first success and it really sucked letting him go but I knew he needed a family of his own. Tucks is a lot of work and I knew I would have to let go of SOME  fosters. hahahaha. 

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Fostering is great! But 7 dogs is a lot. We didn’t get into this thinking that we were going to end up adopting dogs. (I really swear I didn’t want another dog). But sometimes, things happen and I wouldn’t change it. We will continue to foster dogs that are on the brink of death. We know 7 is a lot but if we can continue to help at desperate times, we will. FYI Pluto a chi mix who couldn’t handle the shelter is coming our way this week ;). 

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Car Safety

This summer has been jam packed with all that is dog for me. It’s actually weird when I DON’T have a dog in the car anymore. My dogs are small and one hard break causes them to fall off the seat. If I had big dogs, I would be afraid of their knees and hips as well. I know nothing is 100% but I never let me dogs ride in the car without a seatbelt. I also never let the fosters I’ve picked up ride with out one…they always borrow one of mine :).bsb.jpg

Like I said seatbelts don’t guarantee my dog’s safety, but as least I try to keep them as safe as I can. This year, I learned that my old seatbelts were not crash test rated, and thus I bought all new seatbelts that were. The brand I purchased is Kurgo. I really like this company and the harness. The harness has nested buckles instead of the traditional clip. The traditional clip and easily crack and come apart during a crash, the nested buckles are metal and have a much lower chance of coming undone.

The Kurgo harness comes with a mountain clip to attach your dog to the car’s belt. It is important to not use just any clip because there are different ones for different weights. You simply buckle the car seat belt and then attach the clip to the harness and the belt.

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My smallest dog can still reach the window and put his head out comfortably this way. I always clip to the shoulder part instead of the lap part so that they can see out the window. This is the safest way to use the clip. If you slam on your breaks the car belt will lock out like it would if there was a human sitting back there and thus your dog could only jolt forward.

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However, some dogs don’t like to be so confined and will chew on their harness or worse your car belt -_-. The seat belt comes with an extra attachment. It is essentially a handle to a leash. You would put the car belt through the attachment and then attach the clip to the attachment and the harness. The dog has a little more space but it is much harder for them to put their heads out of the window if they are small. The other option is to purchase a second clip. You then attach one clip on each end of the attachment and then one clip to your buckled car belt, and one to the harness. These alternative ways are not the best practices way but still help protect your dog.

Most of my dogs and fosters get the hang of the seatbelt quickly and have no problem. Peter, the poodle, did not like the seatbelt that much and would constantly chew on both the seat belt and the car belt. To teach him not to, I rode passenger and every time he went to chew I would tell him no. As long as he stopped chewing I let him sit or walk around as he could. When working with my fosters, I had them sit up front so I could watch while driving, and would tell them no as well. I also bring a toy for them to chew on to redirect the chewing when it is new. The other thing that is important is to just take them up the rode or around the corner so that they just get more used to it. If the car ride is a thing of very few occurrences their excitement is going to sky rocket every time.

The Kurgo seatbelt can also act as a walking harness. Woody wears his for walking every day. He has not gotten any rash from this harness and it fits well.

Second(ish) Foster

Well guys—onto the second foster. Well actually, it’s kind of our first foster. We failed miserably with Mercy and adopted her. We just fell in love and knew she was meant to be a part of our family. Meet Buster man! Buster is a cute what was 8 pound dog, now 11 ever! He is a 6 month old minpin chi mix. He fits in well and is loving having other dogs around him. I thought five was going to be tough and it is/was, but when you have a system it’s much easier!  If I could adopt them all…… I will keep you posted on Buster’s adoption!
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First Foster

So we have taken the next step and have decided to foster. Yes, five dogs, two of us, one house. But I do have some, what I feel are, good reasons to support our decision. Since February, we had five dogs with us because my parents were in the process of moving. It was evident that her dog, Georgie, had very minimal rules, and routines. And okay, I know people and dogs don’t need as much routine as our home, but routine is proven to be very good for dogs and humans too! Georgie was a good dog despite this, and after going through our boot camp, personally, I think she is an even better dog. J When Georgie moved out, we babysat a friend’s dog for a week and once she left, we almost felt a void in our house. There was a vacant cage with soft blankets and beds but no dog.  We missed having the fifth dog around. This is when I started looking at fostering opportunities as well as the pros and cons.

When I thought about it, we have the time, space, and energy to care for dogs. Our four have a great life, and if we can help others, why not? I know I could go to shelters and walk dogs, but doing that makes me lose time with my dogs and I don’t like that. I’ve walked at shelters before and it is so rewarding but given the amount of exercise and time devoted to my dogs each day, it would literally mean taking time away from them. So, if I could just throw at least one extra dog into my pack, I would not be sacrificing their time. Sure, the foster dog will steal some of the attention, but they probably would like that ;).

My boys are very particular in who they like. I have one requirement. A dog must be similar in size to them. They hate big dogs. Riley just can’t handle the movements of big dogs. I also prefer terriers. But, that’s just me. At this point, I’m not too sure about temperament issues. My boys have been friends with even some aggressive dogs. I wouldn’t want an aggressive dog added to my pack by any means but they don’t really have an issue with that yet.

Here’s the thing—my boys are sensitive to other dogs, especially when they encounter a dog when they are out at the park or somewhere with me. My hope is that having foster dogs would help desensitize my dogs when encountering strange dogs. I know it won’t make them “dog friendly” by any means when on leash but perhaps it will help because they are used to different dogs coming and going around them.

So, we have our first foster dog. Her name is Mercy. She is a 1 year old Min-Pin Chihuahua mix. She is from KY and was from stray pregnant with 5 puppies. It’s sad that at 1, she has already had a liter, but at the same time, that is basically what saved her. She got into a rescue because she was pregnant.first day.jpg

I was extremely nervous when picking her up at the vet. I brought our car seat harness for her because regardless of what dog is in my car, they will always be secured. They brought her out. Told me she had an ear infection, fleas (that were treated) and she was in heat. Remember I have four BOY dogs. I know what “in heat” is, but I kind of figured they meant that she was in heat because she just had puppies. Note—they did NOT mention that perhaps I pick up a diaper or two for her -_-. They gave me her medicine, her tags, papers on when to come back with her, food, and of course her. With leash in hand we were off. I was kind of like “is this real life? They just hand me a puppy?”. And Mercy, don’t get into cars with strangers!! So I put her harness on and off we go. She was sweet right from the get go. But in true min-pin form she managed to get her leg up and tangled in the harness. Reminds me of Peter… (our minpinpoo).One handed, I fix the harness and she falls asleep until we get home.

Riley typically meets any dog last from our group. He is the most high strung of them all so if he sees the others being okay, he calms down some. Andy was outside with what I thought was all the dogs so I bring Mercy in and figure why not let her sniff around. Well, that was short and sweet as Riley comes bolting out of the room. Holding my breath (usually Andy takes care of meet and greets because I send fear energy) Riley sniffs and she submits, and they both go on their way. The other boys, of course, get let in and charge and she did great. Not one growl. Her tail just kept wagging. Hm, this is easier than I thought. Mercy seemed pretty potty trained. She does like to go too close to the picket fence for my comfort, and her biggest fault is being in heat. And who’s fault is that really? As I mentioned, I didn’t really know much about that, but I soon learned because of my bed sheets, and of course, white overalls.  Needless to say, she now wears a diaper well.sleepy.jpg

My boys have been great leaders for her. I find it really interesting to see what they bring out in her, and what she brings out in them. Benny is actually being less bratty and more assertive and corrective when she is being annoying. He isn’t being at all aggressive with her and it’s pretty darn cute. Riley has had some issues with trying to hump her and I’m not sure if it’s dominance or her being in heat. All my dogs are fixed so I didn’t think it would be an issue. It’s been easily corrected and when he gets too obsessive I just take him for a walk.group2.jpg

Mercy has learned to sit, eat on schedule, potty on schedule, walk on a leash without pulling(she did NOT learn this from my dogs but I think learned it from being a part of a pack), and bed time.  She is also a great picture poser. She couldn’t care less about loud noises. She sleeps through them(see her sleeping at the parade!).  She loves to be in bed with you and anything soft and comfy. She has chewed on a bone once or twice but isn’t too interested. The cutest thing is she likes to chase fireflies. She will even bark at them. She hasn’t barked much, but she will bark more in the dark. Her whine and bark do sound like she may have had some vocal cord trauma.

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She is learning to be crate trained and that’s a bit of a rollercoaster. If another dog is in the cage next to her she quiets down in about five minutes or so. I know this because of the nanny cams J. If I leave just her in the cage when I take the jacks for their walk, she screams and screams. I think this will just take time. I’ve tried giving her a Kong but she’s really only been in a cage since last Sunday—and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we were off work! It also seems to mirror Peter’s actions. When I get home they are all crazy excited. I let them out and they go potty, Peter goes back in his room, and Benny gets left behind, and I take the jacks on a walk. When I started this process, Peter used to freak out because he didn’t like going back in when he was locked up all day already. After a few weeks he got used to this schedule and now he comes in and runs in there on his own. Schedule and routine seem to be a min pin’s friend. I’m hoping that Mercy get’s used to it and realizes the cage isn’t a negative place but a safe place. We also started putting her in the cage while we eat dinner. Benny ALWAYS goes in a puppy bed at dinner and he typically chooses the cage anymore so Mercy does seem to stop whining quicker because Ben is right next to her enduring the same “torture”. She falls asleep whining and tries to fight it. It’s actually cute.

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Our first foster is a good one. She is well behaved, cute as can be and loving. I always joke with my one friend who owns I think 7 dogs that she got all the good ones…..Four pits and three shepherds….. She tells me they were all rejects and that’s how she got them but her dogs are well behaved, well mannered, and she can walk all of them at the same time without aggression. Some of them were fosters that just didn’t get adopted so she adopted them. As far as fostering goes, I’m back and forth with it. I’m glad to help and I want to help. I do worry about my boy’s feelings but I also know I may be projecting on them. I may not be that person that fosters every dog that comes along to ensure that adequate attention and care is given to my own, but I feel honored to be able to save lives.bone.jpg

 It’s amazing to see how humble and kind Mercy is even though our society has failed her. When I signed up to foster I knew my boys could teach Mercy things. I knew she could probably teach my boys things. But I didn’t know she was going to teach me things. Animals forgive, and don’t hold grudges. They build trust and are genuinely happy to live. With all this negativity in the world and in our country, we could learn a thing or two from animals. I haven’t even had Mercy a week but I know I’ve helped give her the life she deserves by just opening our empty cage, and home to her  and allowed her to fulfill that 5th dog void.  The pleasure is really ours.

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Honest Kitchen

Summer is here and so are allergies! As I have mentioned, Benny has awful allergies year round but they are particularly bad now. He has to wear a coat at all times and can’t be unsupervised with it off. armour.jpg

Ben’s armor to protect his skin

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Ben’s new custom made coat  (much more comfortable hehe)

He essentially will scratch himself raw. He bleeds, he gets rashes and it’s all sorts of painful I’m sure. He has been on natural foods his entire life including California Natural, Zignature and Orijen. All of these foods I have found successful for my other dogs but not him. He would be okay for a little but at some points it was like we were just keeping him at a bearable amount of itch.

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Recently I have gotten pretty fed up with seeing him in pain. Since he was a baby he had only had fish based food so I decided to go rogue. I utilized Instagram, and facebook groups and asked other Basenji owners what they have done and if they experienced these allergies and I kept getting the feedback to feed Ben raw food. For a year I contemplated this and was not ready to go there with him. My mental image was literally raw chicken bone and all and I just couldn’t imagine doing that. To my surprise, there are other raw options! This leads me to the brand of the hour—Honest Kitchen.

Honest Kitchen is a dehydrated, 100% human grade(but don’t eat it…that’s weird) raw dog food. Dehydration removes the moisture from the food but keeps all the minerals and vitamins. There are no artificial preservatives like canned food nor is it sticky. Sticky canned food causes a lot of teeth issues and gum issues. There is many differences between this and kibble, but most importantly it’s more exciting to dogs! Additionally 0% of the ingredients used come from China. This food has had success in keeping dogs energized, a healthy body weight, healthier skin and coat (my biggest concern) and a general better digestion pattern.

This food is a powder substance. You simply scoop it in a bowl, add water, stir, wait three minutes and serve! Benny prefers a slightly more oatmeal like consistency so I do add a little less water than recommended.  He’s a splasher…..  It comes in a nice small box. A ten pound box is 40 pounds of dog food.

There are multiple blends of this food.  Below is a link to the nutritional facts of the blends. They even have a blend where you can add your own protein to it if you are like cooking for your dogs!

https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/media/wysiwyg/2016/nutrient-profiles/updated/At_A_Glance_Food_Guide_Opt.pdf

For Benny I chose Marvel which is a turkey based grain free food. I chose this because I needed to stay away from fish for sure and he has had chicken before. I thought about it and I don’t think he intentionally has had turkey so I thought why not. The other five ingredients were not in his diet either except some coconut oil here and there.

Honest kitchen has released a product called Proper Toppers as well. This is a limited ingredient topper to food or as a treat. I personally give ben a small handful for breakfast every day since I am trying to limit his exposure to things. There is a chicken based topper and a turkey based topper. I also throw some on top of his food to jazz it up a bit. I received my first bag of Proper Toppers through chewy.com to test for the month. All my dogs loved them! My only complaint about them is that they do not make great training treats because they crush very easily. Using them in agility was tough because they would always end up crushed while I ran.

So the results? Ben’s skin is a ton better. Is he cured? No. Just like human’s with allergies, we are never going to rid him of all the irritants. But I can tell you that his skin is not red, and is soft. Furthermore, his hair had been missing in spots and is actually growing back! He does have worse days than others but he has left his neck alone which was typically his worst area. Going forward we are going to keep Ben on this food and hope for progress. I think we will be staying away from fish for him for a while but we may try some other blends. We may even switch the jacks to this food. The poodle needs a low fat food and has a sensitive stomach so since he is successful on his food we will leave him there!frame.jpgDecember 2015 spot on right

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June 2016 spot on right and one month on Honest Kitchen