Argos’s Separation Anxiety

Argos and I have been through some tough living situations. A couple of years ago I was going through a huge transition in my life and I found myself without a place to live. Thankfully I had a job and a very dear friend of mine rented me a room in his home. He also accepted Argos into his home and I will always be thankful for that. Because my new home was super far away from my work, I was putting in my 40 hours at work and then 20 hours a week traveling back and forth. Two hours there, two hours back on public transportation because I didn’t own a car (still don’t).

I couldn’t afford to move closer to work and my boss helped me out by paying for my public transportation fare. This meant that Argos spent A LOT of time without me. I was selfish. I didn’t want to give him up. He made my super shitty days working and traveling worth it.

So to help him not have such a boring time alone at home during the day; once a week he would go to doggy day care, two days a week he would go to my boyfriend’s mother’s house and spend the day there. On the other two days my housemates whom got home way earlier than me would let Argos out and let him roam free or play fetch with him in the backyard. That’s what I miss the most now that I live in the city, the backyard. And on the weekend, it was a mandatory visit to the dog park.

Still my Monday through Friday schedule took a toll on Argos. He developed what I think was separation anxiety. Every time I left him at home alone for even short periods of time, he would start to shake, bark and whine. I would leave treats and toys for him but he wouldn’t touch them until I got back.

When Ellie came home, that all changed. When I leave to go out or to run errands, I put them together in the kitchen and I gate them off. Argos no longer whines or shakes or barks. Ellie never has but I am so, so happy that Argos feels he has company. Obviously we no longer live like that. I moved A LOT closer to work and both his quality of life and mine have changed so drastically. He and he alone helped me get through that very tough time in my life and for that I will be forever grateful and I am very happy that Ellie is helping him heal in that respect. I love my mutts.

Argos is actually yawning as I prepare to leave on an errand.

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Ellie’s Very Busy Day

EVERYONE says their dog is the BEST dog. I say that sometimes. Dogs get into trouble and sometimes its right under your nose the second you look away. Take today for example, I usually have the dogs with me wherever I am in the apartment. When I shower, they come in the bathroom with me so that any trouble they can get into is minimized. Ellie, however, has been getting into the habit of eating toilet paper. Yep, used toilet paper. I’ve been trying to correct the behavior by saying no and showing her to her toy box. Instead she proceeds to sitting in the toy box. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I bought the darn thing. It’s too big and they only have three toys…

I know that this interest in chewing things is most likely boredom so I am also addressing that by walking her a minimum of 2.5 miles. I’ve also scheduled a 30 minute training session every night before bed. I am still working on teaching her basic commands like sit, down, jump, and twirl. Unlike Argos, she finds the Kong incredibly diverting so I stuff it with goodies every now and then and toss in her crate at night. This has been working but unfortunately today she only got to walk around the block and the day before their feeding schedule was off by two hours because I got caught up doing something else.

And this is what happened.

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Ellie Dines on TP

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Ellie pooted

They are not the best dogs in the world (the assumption being that “Best Dogs” are superbly behaved, wash their own bowls and open doors for you) but they are my dogs and I love that they are imperfect.

Argos Tanning

Every afternoon when the sun hits our balcony, Argos asks to go out to the balcony to lay down. I don’t know why he does it. Our apartment doesn’t feel cold or hot and he doesn’t do it in the summer. I let him out because he seems to enjoy it but I wonder if I should look into sunblock sprays for him. He has long hair so I suppose I never thought his skin would actually need UV protection. I’ll let you know my findings.

FDA Proposal for Animal Food Producers

An article in the The Verge was published today announcing a proposal by the FDA to place stricter regulations on the production of pet and animal feed to follow guidelines closer to the guidelines that dictate the production of food for human consumption.

From what I can understand they plan on putting forward “plans and procedures” to help with sanitation and allergen control for products produced domestically and abroad and sold state side.

You can read more here:  New York Times

Potty Training My Puppy

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Ellie’s first day at home. We are sitting in the balcony after dinner waiting for her to relieve herself. She didn’t. She waited to go until we were all back inside the apartment.

I adopted Ellie when she was only two months old and that meant she was peeing and pooping everywhere. I set up pee pads in my balcony for her to use at designated potty breaks and placed my Nature’s Miracle and paper towels close by.

My boyfriend Chris and I decided to adopt a second dog when we did because we knew that we wanted to adopt a puppy, for personal reasons, and because I am currently spending quite a bit of time at home and this would give me the chance to potty train any new additions to our family. That said, I moved all my daily operations to the living room where I cordoned off Ellie, myself and poor Argos by association. This way, any accidents could easily be cleaned up and I could see, hear or smell them right away and be able to take her to the balcony pee pad where I wanted her to go.

It took about a week for her to realize that the pad in the balcony was the place to pee and poo and not the rest of the balcony. I would slide open the door to the balcony and she’d run off, relieve herself and come right back for a treat. This was awesome except for the part where she wouldn’t signal when she had to go, at least not a signal I recognized right away. She would relieve herself if I didn’t catch the cue in time. This kept happening and I kept growing frustrated with myself for not understanding her tell.

Then I saw it, a quick glance at me, a quick glance at the sliding door and then bam! An accident. Of course she had frequent potty breaks but after rambunctious play and big drinks of water, relieving herself just anywhere felt pretty good.

Once I caught her glancing over, I’d run over and let her out. Treats and praise all the way. Once she caught on, her cue became more pronounced. She began sitting by the door, then it evolved to sitting and scratching at the door if I didn’t notice right away. All this was great progress but at least once a day, she’d have an accident.

I live on the third floor of my building and running up and down the stairs with a puppy didn’t seem like a good idea at first. I realized Ellie understood that it was really rewarding to go on the pee pad in the balcony but she was still having accidents and I didn’t understand why. So I got rid of the darn pads! I started by taking her downstairs every one and half hours, then increased to two, then three, etc. etc. And guess what? No more accidents!

If I had understood that pee pads were a drawback, I would have chucked them a long time ago. I imagine potty training looks a little different from dog to dog but this I tell you works:

  • Consistency: A specific setup and restricted area where there is constant supervision

  • Rewards (and only rewards, absolutely no punishments of any sort)

  • Cleaning supplies

It took us about one month to go accident free. It might have been faster but obviously both Ellie and I had to learn and understand each others movements. There were days when I seriously doubted the method I had adopted, days when I would clean up one puddle right after another. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

Picky Eater Dog

I had been deboning a chicken, NEVER thought Argos would jump that high to try to score some food. Poor fella was hungry.

I had been deboning a chicken, NEVER thought Argos would jump that high to try to score some food. Poor fella was hungry.

Argos always finds a way to let me know how he feels about his dinner options. When I first adopted him, he simply didn’t want to eat. As a clueless newbie and working stiff, I went to my local pet store chain and I asked them to help me out. We went from Science Diet to Wellness Complete Health Puppy Formula and he approached both of these with equal apathetic enthusiasm. A close friend recommended I try Merrick Puppy Plate and Argos just didn’t care. I’ve mentioned this before but I really think that Wellness Core Grainfree line and Merrick’s Grainfree Recipes are fairly new revamps to their dog food lines. They certainly weren’t available in 2010 when I went through this whole ordeal.

In my clueless attempts to both get my dog to eat and not spend my savings on dog food trial and error, I tried cooking food for him, I tried adding homemade chicken broth to kibble, adding tuna juice and my attempts would be rewarded with exactly 1.5 days of curious nibbling.

I got a list of premium dog food brands and I started doing my own research on these. All I knew back then, courtesy of my vet, was that I shouldn’t feed supermarket brands to Argos. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know what made other brands ‘premium’. I learned quite a bit about dog food and I began to understand the difference between them. The other problem still persisted, how can I try some of these brands without spending the 10-15 bucks on 5 lb bags that Argos is most likely not going to eat?

So I began emailing all of the brands on my list with my particular dilemma and asking them if they could supply me with sample packs for Argos to try. To my very happy surprise, most of them did, others sent me coupons for sample packs, others said just buy our 3-5lb bag and if he doesn’t like it, return it, while other companies said nothing. I’ve placed some of the responses I got from my emails below.

Fromm, Natural Balance, Earthborn, Avoderm, and Halo were the only ones to send me free samples and these were the ones that I tried first. For Argos, Earthborn was the winner. They sent me the Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural recipe which is grainfree and he loved it. Fromm came in second with their grainfree recipes as well. I noticed that Argos’s enthusiasm started to wane after a couple of weeks on Earthborn so I decided to redeem a couple of coupons for free cans of Evangers Grain Free Game Meats. I mixed his grainfree kibble with Evangers grainfree chicken and he hasn’t had a problem with his food yet.

It has been about two and half years since I did this, I’ve switched Argos’s kibble to other brands and for some reason he prefers the grainfree recipes. Recently I walked over to my local pet feed store and they gave me some free samples of other grainfree recipes for him to try. I imagine for those of you out there with picky eaters you may be able to explore other brands and recipes this way.

I’ve also recently discovered dogfoodadvisor.com and boy has that been handy in determining what brands I want to try next and what kinds of puppy formulas I want to give my puppy Ellie. It’s a very informative site.

Having a picky eater is difficult and worrisome but I was able to help my dog find something he actually wanted to eat. I never truly realized how stressful it had been until I adopted my second dog Ellie and I gave such a huge sigh of relief when she ate her food without any fuss.

Til next time.

EMAILS

From Merrick:

Hello Norma,

Thank you for taking the time to email us. Unfortunately we do not have samples available.  We do have trial size bags available through retail stores.  Check with your retailer for the availability of these.

If for some reason your local retail stores does not carry the trial size bags.  You can purchase a small bag of food risk free.  All of our products are 100% guaranteed, so if for some reason your pet does not like the product hang on to your receipt and you are welcome to exchange for another flavor or a refund.

If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

Thank you,

Lesa

Merrick Pet Care

 

From Castor & Pollux:

Hi Norma,

Thank you for your interest in our products. Although we do not have samples, we do sell our food in 5.5 pound bags, which is a very cost effective way to try our product. In addition, we offer a satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with our food, you can call our customer service and they will issue you a full refund. We think that Argos will love it!

Best,

Jaime

 

From Evangers Dog Food:

Norma,

We are in business because of picky eaters.  I am sending you some coupons for free cans and for our dry food.  You can go to a local independent store and redeem the coupons and try our fine foods.

 Sincerely,

 Brett

Evanger’s Pet Food

From Halo Pets:

Dear Pet Lover,

 Thanks for visiting our website and caring for the ones we love naturally! If you have not already signed up to receive our FREE Newsletter, please feel free to do so at www.Halopets.com, to receive the most current coupons and promotions we are offering. You can also search for stores in your area using this link, www.halopets.com/locator/. It’s always recommended to call the store prior to visiting to ensure they have the product you are looking for in stock.

Thank you for your sample request. They should arrive within a week.

Please feel free to e-mail or call us at 800-426-4256 anytime with questions. Wishing you and your pets GREAT health!

Halo, Purely for Pets

800.426.4256

 

Ellie Comes Home

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Left: Ellie Right: Elise

This past June (’13) my boyfriend and I decided we were ready to adopt another furry four legged creature of the Canis lupus familiaris type. We searched around for a while, we went to a lot of adoption day events in our area and then one night while aimlessly searching petfinder, I came across a litter of cocker spaniel poodle pups at a the Lange Foundation.

When I saw the puppies’s pictures on Petfinder, Chris and I decided that we were interested in the puppy named Elise. Upon meeting Elise it was immediately clear that she had no interest in us and she kept running off to chase the rustling leaves. One of the staff members asked if we wanted to see Ella (we renamed her Ellie on adoption day) and we said, why not.

When Chris saw Ellie for the first time, I  saw a smile spread across his face. Ellie was shy and just stood as close to the wall as possible. When I coaxed her to come over, she ran to Chris first and climbed on his lap and proceeded to lick him. After some more coaxing, she came to me and gave me the same greeting. Before we left her that afternoon, Chris picked her up and she just slumped her little head on his chest. She was all we could talk about that night.

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Ellie at Lange Foundation

Two days later after home inspections and paperwork, Ellie came home for good. I decided to rename her Ellie because Ella in Spanish means “Her”, and that’s just plain silly. She is no longer shy and her only difficulty is being able to control her little body when she gains pouncing speed.

When Argos Came Home

12 week old Argos after a particularly exciting play session.

I decided to adopt Argos from the Inland Valley Humane Society in early Fall of 2010. I had never had pet dog before and it was not a decision I took lightly. I was living with my mother and my younger siblings at the time so I knew that I could count on their help for support. Nothing I read or heard from relatives, forums and friends could prepare me for the challenge that owning a dog truly meant.

Argos was a tough one to potty train, mainly because at first he lacked any sort of consistent schedule. Believe it or not, to a newbie such as myself it was not common sense that a dog should be taken out at regular intervals and that he should have a set feeding schedule. My living situation at the time meant that Argos was exposed to about 6 people at random times of the day and all with separate ideas as to how he should be taught. As a pet parent I found my voice and made it very clear how I wanted this great feat accomplished and we did it! By Christmas that year Argos was fully trained and no longer contained in his crate at night. Consistency and praise prevailed.

After Christmas ’10 I moved out on my own. That was toughest year of my life for a number of reasons and I think I got through it all only because of Argos. Maybe one day I’ll share that with you.

Then there was the picky eating problem that spanned from Fall ’10 through the Summer of 2011. Argos didn’t like to eat his kibble. He refused to the point of starvation. Sometimes he would take exactly one bite and walk away until the next day. I would wake up to green/yellowish bile looking vomit on my bedsheets, because you know, there was never a better place to puke than on the bed. I was told he had been eating Science Diet before and I decided to switch him to the Wellness Just For Puppy Formula. He would eat  the kibble only until he lost all curiosity for it, usually after three or four days. Then I tried Merrick’s Puppy Plate and he tolerated that for a couple of days only. I feel that since then, both Wellness and Merrick have revamped their whole line of products to include more recipes that people are learning is better for their mutt friends. It certainly was not like this when I started out with Argos. This was a problem for about 6 months until I gave up and decided to be proactive about it. Grain-free turned out to be the key for Argos and I will expand on this later.

Argos and I no longer live alone. In 2012 I moved out with my boyfriend of seven years and while life is great again, its been a hell of ride! I’ve learned a lot about myself and about Argos and he in turn has showed me what unconditional love is.

Emergency Preparedness for Dogs

Today is The Great California Shakeout and in that spirit I wanted to go over dog emergency preparedness in case such a disaster would strike. The big one is coming and we need to prepare for our safety and that of our furry family members.

My pet emergency preparedness kit includes the following:

  • 2 Travel Tainers with kibble for Argos and Ellie.  I like these Travel Tainers because the end caps double as bowls.
  • 2 extra leashes, collars and tags with emergency phone numbers where to reach me as well as the Los Angeles Animals Services who license the dogs in my area. My dogs are also microchipped and carry their city license tag at all times.
  • Pictures of both my mutts
  • Copies of vaccination records and veterinarian information in resealable plastic bags
  • 1 small case with baby wipes
  • 1 case of water
  • 2 small blankets
  • 2 squeaky toys, you know the ones that are so worn out and are almost ready to be chucked.

It’s a very compact kit and is as it should be because in an emergency you need to be able to easily pick up and carry this stuff if need be.

As for a pet first aid kit the things that are usually suggested like cotton balls, gauze, tape, scissors, antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide are already part of my bigger first aid kit I’ve put together for the family.

It is also highly recommended that one include medications for dogs that need them. My dogs fortunately do not require medication but if they did that would be the first thing included in the kit.

I have also heard about stickers that people place on their front windows indicating to emergency rescue personnel how many pets live inside. Now, I can see the value of something like this but my dogs spend a lot of time outside of my home, usually on play dates with nephews, visiting my mother or visiting my boyfriends family. I would never want rescue personnel to endanger their lives simply because I forgot to cross out the sticker letting them know that the pets that are usually inside, are in fact, not inside. This is my main concern and I will have to research this further and see what rescue authorities recommend.

Lastly, it is important to have a clear understanding and make note of places where you can keep your pets in case of an evacuation, such as shelters, boarding places, neighbors, and/or family members. For health reasons, quite understandably, pets are not usually allowed in emergency shelters set up after disasters to help those that have been displaced.

Putting a kit together is only the first step in emergency preparedness, it is just as important to perform drills  and prepare contingency plans and make sure everyone in the family knows their roles in case of an emergency.

While researching on how to best put together a pet emergency kit of my own I visited www.ready.gov as well as www.shakeout.org

Happy Shakeout!

Hola!

I’m Norma and this little piece of cyberspace is where I will chronicle my adventures with my two mutt friends, Ellie and Argos. Sharing my life with these dogs is one of my greatest pleasure and I want to share that with whomever is out there. I would like to share with you all the ins and outs of pet ownership, tips and how tos without prescribing  or preaching a particular dogma. Every dog-owning Dick and Jane thinks they know best and that is certainly not what you will find here. So come with me as I journey through training, eating habits and teach my mutt friends to stay out of my dirty clothes hamper and the bathroom trash!