Paws Fur Pink 2014

This weekend Chris, his sister Tiffany, Ellie, Argos and I got out to stretch our legs at the second annual Paws Fur Pink 5k in Orange, California.

The weather was perfect, the skies were clear and the sun was shining. It was a very well attended event. We got there late by about 30 minutes and were erroneously informed that we could no longer participate in the un-timed 5k. We walked around for a little bit and then we were told by someone else that we could in fact still run the 5k, so we did.

We all had a great time! There were so many dogs of all shapes and sizes to support their humans. Argos did fantastic, smelled around, he barked and ran really well. Ellie on the other hand was really distracted by all the commotion and immediately resorted to incessant barking and whining. She was really uncomfortable. So while Tiffany, Argos and I walked around, Chris and Ellie hung out on the sidelines.

Photo (4) copy

Ellie, Argos and I after the run.

Once we started the 5k, Chris and Ellie took off and were out of sight shortly after that. Chris reports that the incessant barking stopped once she had to focus on matching his stride. Argos ran with Tiffany and me and kept an excellent pace. Overall, I am very proud of what we’ve done so far in terms of training the dogs to run at our side and to keep pace. I am really proud of myself because I never thought I would complete a 5k. Ever. So I am very much looking forward to attending more events like these in the future and to continue training in this manner for both my sake and the dogs’.

But before I get ahead of myself, I have to confess I am having trouble with Ellie. The incessant barking in particular makes it very difficult to go anywhere or meet anyone new. She’s a shy girl so I need to work on that before we decide to attend anymore events such as this. I am currently in love with the Paws Abilities Helping people enjoy their dogs blog  and I am planning on using their advice as a guideline to help Ellie feel more comfortable in different surroundings.

Review: Castor & Pollux Canned Foods

I took advantage of the PetSmart $5 for $25 coupon a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who haven’t used it yet, you have until the end of February to do so. You can print it twice and couple it with some sale items for a really good deal.

I used my coupons to purchase some Castor & Pollux that is on sale at PetSmart until March. Chris printed two coupons as well and used it with his PetSmart pet perks card. I top Argos and Ellie’s food with wet dog food for variety and to keep them interested. It helps me keep them on an eating schedule, specially since I don’t like leaving food out in the bowls. I find that both Ellie and Argos lose interest in their food the deeper we get into a 15 lb of dog food. This is one of the reasons I don’t sign up to repeat deliveries from places like www.petflow.com or www.amazon.com, because I change up the dry food every time I have to purchase a new bag and I never know which brand or recipe I’ll  be trying next. I also liked purchasing from PetSmart in person because they have the single cans, so you can mix and match flavors and recipes and that is definitely not possible when you order from the web. If you want packs of canned dog food from online suppliers, you are limited to one recipe/flavor per pack.

With the PetSmart coupons I bought 19 cans of of 13.2 oz Castor & Pollux Ultramix Indulgent Mix and 20 cans of 12.7 oz of Castor & Pollux Organix Butcher & Busshel.

Natural Ultramix Indulgent Mix

Natural Ultramix Indulgent Mix

Because these are cans of dog food and not just dog food toppers, they actually have big chunks of meat in them. My tricky little fur balls started to pick out the big chunks of meat and only eat that, leaving the kibble behind. Now, when I open a can of food, I put it in the blender to make it one homogenize mixture. Ha! A can lasts about 6 days, so my supply should last me a good 7 months.

The Organix Butcher & Bushel has a 4.5 stars and the Natural Ultramix Indulgent Mix has 5 stars on www.dogfoodadvisor.com so I felt pretty confident it was gonna go over well with the dogs.  And it sure did! Dinner time is done in 5 minutes. They haven’t tried all the flavors yet but I know I won’t have a problem with that.

Now I am searching deal sites and online stores for good deals on kibble. I got a coupon for a free 1/2 lb trial size bag of Now Fresh dry kibble so we’ll give that a try to see how well it goes over.

La Brea Tar Pits

If you live in the Mid-Wilshire, West Los Angeles, or West Hollywood area and you are looking for a nice place to hang out with your dog on a Saturday morning to have a picnic or maybe just a good romp in the grass, look no further than The La Brea Tar Pits. The La Brea Tar Pits are adjacent to the LACMA in Mid-Wilshire and its a big park. You can walk your dog through the park, play fetch or people watch. It’s by far my favorite place to with Argos. I am not a big fan of dog parks so this is a good compromise. On this particular Sunday, a little girl came up to us when she saw Argos playing fetch and she joined in. That little girl tired Argos out like I’ve never seen him before.

If you live in the area, give it a go. It’s free and you don’t need a dog.

This is what happiness looks like.

This is what happiness looks like.

Excitement and Submissive Urination

Ellie has a problem. A peeing problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she is house-broken. She doesn’t pee and poo randomly indoors. Instead she seems to lose control of her bladder at specific times. The specific times tend to involve someone talking to her or petting her.

I first noticed this pattern when Chris greeted the dogs after coming home from work. It’s a mystery to me that this never happens with me. I also noticed the peeing when I have guests over or when we visit others. I ruled out the little accidents as marking of areas or people because as long as no one excites her attention during first encounters, nothing happens.

In the past, Argos has had  a UTI infection. Concerned that Ellie’s inability to control her bladder was a manifestation of a more serious health issue, I spoke to the Veterinarian about it during her last visit. He had no reason to believe it was anything serious and in fact assured me her accidents had more to do with excitement and/or fear, than a health related issue.

shy-beagle

Sure enough, I came home and did my own research. Ellie has been displaying symptoms of excitement urination. Many websites use excitement urination and submissive peeing interchangeably and I don’t think it helps people understand how best to resolve the issue. I diagnosed Ellie with excitement urination for two reasons.

 

  1. State of Mind: When Chris and I come home, Argos greets us by jumping waist high and we respond with petting and baby voices. I know its wrong. I know that it’s anxiety mixed with excitement and it is wrong to reward it with attention. I’ve tried to correct myself many times but how can I ignore a furry face when I’m just as excited to see it? It is in this very stage of excitement and anxiety that Ellie pees because she acts the same way and we respond the same way.

  2. Chris, my family, and friends have tried to ignore Ellie’s frantic excitement but not Argos. They greet Argos as usual and guess what? Ellie has an accident. No one is saying anything to her but she still hears the ruckus Argos forms, the squeaky voices and she loses it.

The solution is rather simple. Ignore the dog. When Chris comes home, he ignores the jumping dogs, and goes about his routine. Sometimes it takes a while for them to settle down. Ellie will circle his legs a couple of times with a rope toy in her mouth and Argos will continue to jump in the air hoping for a “Good Boy!”. Then, disappointed, they will walk back to the kitchen where I am and lay down on the floor, just as they were right before he came in. No accidents. After a good 15 to 20 minutes Chris walks over to them, gives them a good scratch behind their ears and hands them a freeze dried liver treat.

a helping dog hand_full

Wouldn’t this be wonderful?

Steps to Resolving Excitement Urination:

 

  1. Understand that this has nothing to do with house-breaking.

  2. Let the dog empty it’s bladder more frequently in designated areas. Give the dog a treat after it eliminates in the designated area. I cannot stress enough the power of treats. This will help determine or confirm excitement urination.

  3. When the dog pees, clean it up and say and do nothing. It’s easy and almost involuntary to sound disappointed when you are greeted with a puddle of pee. Clean it and move on. Excitement and submissive urination is involuntary. The dog can’t help it. Don’t sound disappointed or stern for something he or she cannot control.

  4. Ignore the dog when the situations that trigger the involuntary urination come up. Does it happen when you come home after work? Come home, ignore the pup, let it settle down for a good 5 minutes and continue with your routine as you normally would.

 

Man With DogIf after five minutes the still pees, make it ten minutes before you direct attention to it the next day.

This new routine was put into place about two months ago and I thought Ellie was completely over the excitement urination. She quickly proved me wrong when family came over for Super Bowl Sunday. Too many people, too fast, too loud, so much going on! She couldn’t control her excitement.

We often drive over to Chris’s parents home for Sunday dinners and its the same issue. It’s so hard to tell people to ignore my dogs. I often feel they think I am being mean, either to them or the dogs. My requests are disregarded or forgotten and peeing ensues. I can’t blame them, my dogs are adorable 😀

I have no doubt she’ll grow out of it. According to my web browsings, the issue is common in puppies and sometimes it happens to adult dogs, later in life.

I mentioned earlier that I feel that excitement urination and submissive urination should be distinguished from each other  if only for the sake of addressing the issue and thus resolving it. It seems that there are other factors that account for submissive urination. For timid dogs and un-socialized puppies they are eager to show submission. This could be due to fear, anxiety or timidness.

Steps To Resolving Submissive Urination:

 

  1. If peeing happens, when it shouldn’t, clean it up and move on. Don’t scorn or sound disappointed. The mere act of submission is a survival mechanism at work “Look, you be the boss alright?”

  2. For submissive urinators, certain sudden gestures will trigger the issue. Don’t approach in dominant positions or with dominant gestures. Don’t approach at all. Let the dog come to you. Go down to their level and wait for the dog to make the next move. I’ve seen dogs scoot in as this happens. Dominant gestures consist of sudden movements such as bending down from the waist and talking to the dog or direct eye contact.

  3. Give a command. Sit, down, roll-over etc. and treat if the command is followed through. This will help build the dog’s confidence.

The point of any of these steps here or anywhere else on the web is to remove the situation that triggers the involuntary urination. If you just rescued a shelter dog and you suspect fear and timidness is at the root of the problem, love that darn dog and show it that it has nothing to fear anymore. Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated with your pup, these solutions do work.

I used several websites such as www.petmd.com and www.banfield.com for information and resources. I am open to suggestions for reading materials, so suggest away!

Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix Indulgent Mix

Howdy Peeps!

So this PetSmart coupon has been making the rounds. It’s a $5 off $25 purchase coupon good til’ 2/28/2014.

So I took a trip to PetSmart to check out their items on sale. I like to top Argos and Ellie’s kibble with wet food to keep them interested and eating on schedule. I always buy Evanger’s Grain Free Game Meats 24 pack of 6 oz cans for $28.00 at my local Collar & Leash (cheaper than Amazon).

I checked with the cashier at my local PetSmart about combining the coupon with sale items. I picked up 13 cans of 13.2 oz Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix Indulgent Mix canned food for $22.89! The sale price on each 13.2 oz can is $2.00.

According to PetSmart I saved $16.87!

There is a print limit of 2 for the coupon. I don’t know what that implies exactly but I printed a second copy and I’m gonna go get another 13 cans of this stuff.

How are you gonna use your coupon?

 

Pet Expenses January 2014

The first month of 2014 is done with! So might my bank account! The goal, like I mentioned before, is to spend $900 or less on dog related expenses this year. Well, I spent a total of $327.56…

*(PetSmart) shows what I would have spent, had I as usual, taken them in for grooming. In this case I did it myself but I wanted to noted somehow.

I promise, its not what it looks like. I spent 36% of the set budget on the first month of the year alone. In my defense, however, some of the items will last 6 months to a year. For example, I bought flea medication which will last 6 months, the dog shampoo will last me all year (it’s 1 gallon of dog shampoo!), the poop bags will last a year, and the Greenies should last me a good 4 months. Saving money 101 dictates that sometimes one must buy in bulk to get the better price and because I know dog needs are constant, I did just that.

1_2014 pie chart

January’s expenses in percentages.

I also took advantage of a couple of great deals this month. For example, I got a 15 lb. bag  of Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Food (4 stars on www.dogfoodadvisor.com) for free and I got two value size packages of Greenie Teenies at a very good price from www.chewy.com. I also downgraded the dogs from Earthbath shampoo and went with the more conveniently priced Just Add Water at $12.80 for 1 gallon. Last time I bought a 14 fl. oz. bottle of Earthbath shampoo, I got it for $10, which is a tad expensive. Big savings and we don’t miss the expensive Earthbath.

In trying to map out my expenditures, I logged things a little differently this time. I decided to log tax and discounts to help me see a more detailed picture. Logging the discounts helped me see how much I have saved by switching to alternative brands, buying in bulk, buying at a discount, using coupons and doing things on my own. In doing all of those things I managed to save myself $210. Not bad at all! Another thing I learned this month is that you don’t always get the best prices online. I know its hard to believe but it happens.

1_14 Budget Pie

I have 62% of my budget to use for the rest of the year…

Take for example my local Dog Hound + Cat mom/pop store. I’ve noticed that although I wipe away Argos eye-boogies with wipes every night, the fur around the eyes and even the mouth tends to develop a stench. So I decided to look up some kind of eye cleaner/stain remover that might help with the discoloration around the eyes. On Amazon, I found a product that sold for $8.99 plus $5.99 shipping (not available on Amazon Prime) and when I called Hound Dog + Cat, they didn’t have it in stock but would special order it for me for the nifty price of $8.99. I checked just now on Amazon and the price is now $12.00 with free shipping but I’m no longer interested. Shop around, you might be in for a surprise.

In short, if you wanna save some real money this is what you do:

Dog-Saving-Money

That’s money in the bank!

  1. Buy in bulk
  2. Buy at a discount
  3. Use coupons
  4. DIY
  5. Shop around
  6. Prepare for shopping needs in advance

If you can combine the first three, you are on your way to saving a lot of money!

In pondering the ‘bulk shopping’ idea I started thinking about food vacuum sealers. Ellie will be turning one in April and I will be switching her to adult kibble. If I buy kibble in greater quantities, say 60 lbs of the stuff,  I could be saving myself a few bucks. Food vacuum sealers, seal in food, keeping it fresh longer than normal containers. I can see how this might avoid stale kibble. I must take into account the price of the sealer and subsequent sealing bags and contrast it with the savings per pound on kibble. It might be a wise thing to do or a stupid move…I will have to do my research.

I aid my money saving goals by checking out coupon and deal sites like www.slickdeals.net and www.fatwallet.com daily for anything that catches my attention. Anything worth finding out about, you will find it there. For those of you with Amazon Prime memberships, I recommend using a site like www.camelcamelcamel.com to track the price changes of your favorite products on Amazon. The site makes it really simple for you to see if you are buying at the most expensive price. If you happen to be buying at a low price, you can decided whether it’s worth it to stock up on these favorite items.

IMG_1436

Some of the stuff we bought.

This month I also learned about other dog supply websites such as www.chewy.com and www.petango.com. If you are anything like me, www.amazon.com is oftentimes my default store, because of their low prices. However, I found that both Chewy and Petango had great offers on certain products that beat amazon prices out of the water. I realize that it does take some time to browse different sites to compare prices but you can always get google to help you or you can spend 15 minutes every morning, as I do, to check different sites for anything interesting.

I don’t think I will be spending nearly as much money in subsequent months. I do predict however, that I will need to restock on kibble for Argos and wet food mixers. I’m staying on top of the ads and coupons for possible savings opportunities. I really do think this is ultimately the key to saving money. Planning in advance for future purchases. For example, Argos doesn’t need kibble right away but he has about three weeks to go, enough time for me to start searching the ads for any deals out there. If you wait till you are on your last serving of kibble, you’ll take what your dog needs at whatever price they shove at you. That’s no way to save.

I do hope to stay within my $900 budget this year and tracking my spending and publishing it here makes me feel accountable. It also forces me to look for the best prices and its encouraging me to try different products. If at the end of the year, I should fail in this attempt, it will not be because I got lazy and gave in to frivolous spending. I want to be responsible and save my money where I can. That’s it. If you feel the same way, stay tuned, I feel adventures coming on. If you have tips, tricks or suggestions, let us know below!

So long folks!

Dog Teeth Brushing

This is our nightly teeth brushing routine. Ellie is 9 months old and is now able to tolerate teeth brushing and its all because she gets a treat right after she is done. Not only does she sit still long enough for me to do it, she gets excited in anticipation.

I began brushing her teeth about two months ago when the last of her baby teeth came out. I use an Oral-B baby toothbrush (the bristles are soft and the head is small) and Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste in Poultry Flavor.   She hated the process and would scurry away when I called her into the bathroom with me. Two months later, she follows me  into the bathroom and waits for me to begin.

The Kurgo Wander Hammock Seat Cover

Ladies and Gents! Do you have a dirty, messy dog that you love to no end? Do you have a car you would like to keep clean even after you take Fido out for a good run in the park? Look no further! I present to you the Handy Dandy Kurgo Wander Hammock Seat Cover.

Kurgo Wander Hammock Car Seat Cover

Kurgo Wander Hammock Car Seat Cover

Look, I am the first to admit, something like this seems unnecessary, downright gimmicky. Then, I adopted a dog that gets car sick every time she sits in the car. I’ve used everything I thought would help; blankets, trash bags and bibs! Just so that Ellie’s excessive amount of drool and sometimes vomit, don’t land on the back seats. I have to travel with her, sometimes to the vet or to the park or simply to visit someone. Having to pull out blankets and trash bags, keeping them from shifting around or making sure the dog is resting on them while she is in the car, its a challenge!

I decided to look into a car seat cover after I saw a friend using one for her dogs. One day while browsing the sale items at an REI, I saw the Kurgo Wander Hammock Seat Cover for $49.50. I decided to pick it up, no need to pay for shipping if I’m standing right there! If you decide on a car cover, do your homework, find the best price. I was at Ross recently and I saw three different car seat covers for half the price of what I paid. Hint. Hint.

I thought it was expensive for what I still considered a luxury at that point. But I love it and it’s been re-categorized to necessity based on its ease of use and cleaning.

Argos posing, waiting for us to go somewhere.

Argos posing, waiting for us to go somewhere.

This is what it has:

  • Six attachment points to keep hammock in place. Ellie can’t move it around anymore with her frantic movements to be let out of the car.
  • Can be used as a hammock or a seat cover. This means you can leave the cover in place even if you have other passengers.
  • Waterproof, washable and stain resistant. Need I explain more? Let me tell you something; when there is vomit, accidental trekking of mud and/or poo (you know it happens) …you want to clean it out as best you can and this thing makes it really easy for that to happen.
  • Includes utility bag for leash, toys and water. This is a nice bonus and it came with a water bottle. I bought a pet water bottle so I don’t need the one included, still nice though.
  • Measures 53 by 54 inches.
  • Easy seatbelt and child latch access via Velcro openings. I want the dogs to sit on the cover and I still want to be able to tie them down with the seatbelt. Again, if there are other people in the car, no need to move the cover so they can buckle up.

All in all, I find it very useful and if you are looking for something to protect your back seat from your dirty  but active and adventurous dogs, this may be a good option for you.

 

Running with Dogs

running-with-dogsExactly two months ago I wrote about running/jogging with my dog Ellie as a weight loss program for myself and physical and mental exertion program for her. If someone had told me I was going to be able to run 2.5 miles without complaining, crying or screaming murderous rants, I would have thought it a really mean thing to say to me. I hated running. I would have rather licked the floor of a busy public restroom than to think about running. Alas, I strapped on my sneakers, harnessed the dog and took off, for my clothes were feeling tight and the lack energy was slowly killing me. However, I didn’t do it by myself.

Chris and the Pooch to 5k guide had a lot to do with my success. Chris made sure I kept my word when I said I would go out for a jog, kept me company and learned that to encourage me best, guilt tripping would be ideal. The Pooch to 5k guide was great to check my endurance progress as the weeks went by.

It is not easy to run with a puppy. Their training is yet to be fully ingrained and they are easily distracted. This means I am often being pulled along for the ride. Sometimes I just want to relax while I run. That’s right, I said it, relax.  While we all must always be aware of  our surroundings (traffic, cyclist, and other pedestrians),when running with a dog, specially a puppy like Ellie, you need to pay even more attention.

personal trainer dog

As I run with Ellie, I am still constantly training her. Correcting her when she starts to run in front of me, knowing and catching her “I need a break” signal, and most important of all, calming her mind.  As soon as we begin running, all of a sudden, it’s so much action! So much to pay attention to and so little time to dawdle! Cars are zooming by! Its crazy! This, I’m sure, is what races through her mind once we start pounding the sidewalk. It takes her a good half mile to 1 mile to settle in and follow along at a regular pace. Sometimes I just need a break from that, so once a week I run alone.

Argos rarely runs with me but boy is he an expert runner! He usually accompanies Chris and they keep up with each other very well. Argos is three years old and although he’s never jogged regularly, he’s a natural. I think his obedience training is set, he understands commands quickly and is self aware at all times. He knows better than to run in front of someone.

If you’ve never exercised with your dog and you are interested in teaching your dog to run with you, below is the list of things I did to begin.

Supplies:

  • Will power. LOTS of will power
  • Sneakers/comfortable clothes
  • Harness/Leash. You can try The Buddy System a hands-free leash. This works best on older well trained dogs. Puppies like Ellie, unfortunately, still need constant leading and direction. I find it easier to simply use her harness and regular leash.

Purina_Pro_Plan_Sport_Headline

Precautions:

  • Dogs cool down their bodies by panting. They don’t sweat like we do and so special considerations need to be made. Run only when the weather is cool. Hot weather and a hot, panting dog are not good together. Run either in the early morning or the evening.
  • Make sure the dog is well hydrated at all times. After a good run, I pour fresh cold water in the water bowl for them to enjoy.
  • Don’t eat before you run. It doesn’t feel good. Run before both you and your dog eat breakfast or dinner or until a good two hours have passed since your last meal.
  • Use common sense. If you are miserable, so is the dog. Take a break. It’s more important that you complete the goal you set out to do than to do it fast. If it takes you 30-40 minutes to run/walk 2 miles, at least it was 30-40 minutes you didn’t waste away sitting on the couch.
  • Consult with your Physician & Veterinarian. For breeds who suffer from hereditary ailments like hip dysplasia and the like, running might not be the ideal form of exercise. Please be sure this is safe for you and your dog.

Running/Jogging:

Like I mentioned a few times, Pooch to 5k is a great guide for starters. This is what I used and I surprised my self at how well I adjusted as I progressed through the guide. The first two weeks on the guide I felt out of place. My body fought against my desire to get in shape. By the third week I felt my feet fall into a steady pace…all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like I was dying with every step…I could hear my steady breaths and it felt so damn good. I was hooked!

After I completed the 5 weeks outlined in the guide, I was running 2.7 to 3.1 miles without a hitch.  I don’t always run the same distances, alternating between 3.1 mile run and shorter runs. This is what a typical jog looks like for me:

  • I do a dynamic stretch.
  • Ellie/Argos Warm-up: 5 minutes brisk walk. It’s a good time for the dogs to void before we start running.
  • Run for about half the total distance. Usually about 1 mile, break for two blocks and continue till the end. There are a few pauses here and there sometimes to allow for busy sidewalks, other dogs, traffic or whatever distracts Ellie.
  • Warm down with a walk and static stretching for me.

hip-pain-running2I run almost every other day and take Ellie with me about 2 times a week. I embarked on this exercise journey for two reasons: to lose weight and to exorcise Ellie’s abundance of rambunctious energy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my rambunctious pup, but her energy was excessive to the point of needless barking at anything and everything that dare move beside her. I felt as though she was actually stressing out Argos with the constant pestering for play. I’ve since lost 8 lbs and she is one docile carefree doggie. Two months later, mission accomplished and it didn’t cost me anything but will power. Maybe $20 dollars for the hands-free leash, which I don’t even use.

I plan on maintaining this routine by actually participating in 5k, 10k runs, and one day…a marathon. I’ll take it slow, continue training and take Ellie with me on this new exciting adventure. I am excited, I signed up to run the 5K Paws Fur Pink Run/Walk for Breast Cancer with Ellie at my side.