Gracie is now 13 years old!

For nine years she's eaten REAL, HOMEMADE FOOD, NOT commercial dog food. This blog shows how easy it is to be a DOGGIE CHEF and how healthy a home-fed dog can be.

June 29, 2010

Sardine Breakfast 6-29-10

Canned sardines

Whole wheat breaad

Green peas


Sunflower oil

June 22, 2010

A New Shower Stall For Gracie

We finally replaced our clawfoot tub with a tiled shower stall!
In the coming years it might be easier for an aging dog (and aging people!) to get in and out of a shower stall.

I thought "bathing" Gracie in a shower stall would be easier on my back than "bathing" her in a clawfoot tub. It's not! I kneel in front of the shower stall and Gracie moves as far away from me as she can, so it's still a chore to get the job done well. At least a tiled shower stall and tiled bathroom floor make bath time easier and less messy.

Gracie never takes "baths." She doesn't like to stand in water. She's always preferred showers. Click here to see a photo of Gracie getting washed in our old clawfoot tub.  The photo below shows Gracie in the new shower stall:
Can you tell she's not impressed with the new tiles?

I can't say enough nice things about the Rinse Ace Indoor/Outdoor Pet Sprayer I use to wash Gracie. It makes bath time so much easier and faster. It's a hand-held shower head with an 8-foot hose. It attaches to a sink or shower faucet. You might have to take a trip to the hardware store to get an extra fitting. If you have the kind of water faucets that mix hot and cold water you might want to buy a separate valve to control the water pressure as it comes out of the Rinse Ace.

This handy device has an on/off push button and a little catch that allows you to keep the spray on continuously without pushing the button. It makes it so easy to wet Gracie down quickly, rinse her off thoroughly, and carefully wash her head without getting water or soap in her eyes. Here's a photo of my Rinse Ace Pet Sprayer:

June 15, 2010

Poached Salmon Dinner

Salmon (poached with olive oil, white wine, rosemary, dash of garlic powder)

Brown rice

Homemade wheat bread

June 8, 2010

"Oh My Dog"

"Oh My Dog"
by Beth Ostrosky Stern, with Kristina Grish, copyright 2010

Doggie Chef Rating
4 out of 5 bones

This very comprehensive book is best summarized by its subtitle, "How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed and Care for Your New Best Friend." It's an excellent resource for new dog owners and can be helpful to seasoned dog owners as well.

The author, Beth Ostrosky Stern, is a spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League America. She's compiled and carefully organized some of the best advice on dog care.

"Oh My Dog" is the perfect book for someone thinking about getting their first dog. The book's early chapters discuss the realities of owning a dog and how to choose a dog that's right for your emotional needs and lifestyle (super-important points most people overlook when dog-shopping). Later chapters provide information and advice on training and behavior, health, nutrition, grooming, bonding, emergencies, first aid and saying goodbye.

For more than eight years I've done a lot of research on canine care and nutrition. "Oh My Dog" includes some of the best sources I've encountered. And the book isn't just a rehash of everything I've already read about dog care. I actually learned a few things.

I like Stern's attitude toward canine care. Too many people believe dogs are just like wolves. These people think their pet dog requires dominance-based training to remind them their owner is pack leader. This is nonsense and not very nice for the dog. Stern discusses this under the heading, "Decoding and Debunking Dominance/Pack Talk." She advocates training using reward and motivation techniques to encourage love, trust and respect.

"Oh My Dog" contains lots of additional information in side-bars and boxes. These include lists of websites about dog health, traveling with dogs, and dog trivia explaining why dogs: whine at the door even when they don't want to go out, sleep all the time, stare intently into space as if they can see something we can't, etc...

The author isn't a full-fledged Doggie Chef but her chapter on nutrition encourages dog owners to set high standards for their dogs' diets. It includes sections titled, "Cooking for Your Dog," and, "Thumbs Up on Real Food." New Doggie Chefs will find these sections very helpful. Even long-time Doggie Chefs might learn something.

Stern isn't an expert on dog care and doesn't pretend to be so a lot of topics introduced in the book might not be addressed to a reader's full satisfaction. For definitive answers the author often ends up advising readers to check with their vets or a dog care expert. Yet she usually does this after providing some useful background information.

Through her work with the North Shore Animal League America, Stern encourages people to adopt shelter dogs. Surprisingly her dog, pictured on the book's cover (and mentioned throughout the book), is a purebred she bought from a breeder. It's not a big deal, as purebreds need good homes too. No matter what dog Stern owns, she obviously cares about all kinds and has provided other dog lovers with a very good resource book.

June 1, 2010

Heartgard Plus

I brought Gracie to our vet this past week for her annual heartworm test and check up.
(Click here to read how I've handled Gracie's heartworm preventive routine in the past.)

After talking with our vet I decided to give Gracie the recommended Heartgard Plus preventive through the summer. Our vet gave me a convincing pamphlet about the dangers of not using heartworm meds. I wonder: am I making a sucker's decision, ruled by fear for my pet's safety; or am I making a wise decision? Our vet assured me he hasn't seen any heartworm preventive-related health problems in dogs, even older dogs, so I guess it will be okay.

Our vet's office requested a stool sample so I brought that too. I'm always worried about Gracie picking up parasites from animals that pass through our yard (click here to see my post about that). Although Gracie tested negative for parasites I agreed to give her Heartgard Plus this year instead of regular Heartgard. In addition to protecting a dog from heartworm disease, Heartgard Plus treats and controls ascarid (roundworm) and hookworms infections. I strongly suspect I'm over medicating my dog and that regular Heartgard would have been enough. However, it's hard not to defer to the opinion of "experts." I do trust our vet.

I gave Gracie her first Heartgard dose May 26. The vet's office gave me enough for seven doses but I will only give her three more this year: at the end of June, July and August. That should provide Gracie with protection against heartworm infection through September.

***UPDATE: I changed my above plan. Click here to see my August 31, 2010 post and find out why.